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THB Sports Boys Swimming Athlete of the Year: PH's Jacob Simpson

Mar. 25—PENDLETON — Already a two-time area boys swimming athlete of the year and state finalist, Pendleton Heights senior Jacob Simpson entered his final year looking to add "leader" to his already full resume.

His coach believes his efforts in that area made a difference.

"He worked hard this year as co-captain to build a sense of community among all the guys on the team," PH coach Amanda Safford said in an email. "I really think they were successful in having fun together and supporting one another, and a lot of that is due to his leadership. I really think that when kids are having fun, they perform better in their sport."

It was another way for Simpson to push himself, not just in the pool but in the locker room as well.

And, at times, it was a serious challenge.

"A couple of the younger guys were definitely a handful," he said. "I wanted to give the coaches a little bit of an easier time and make the year fun for everybody. ... I tried to take on a little more responsibility and make things a little easier on the coaches."

This season, Simpson once again led the Arabians in the pool with athletic excellence. He won a sectional championship, advanced to the state finals for the second straight year in two events and broke a pair of school records — including one of his own. He is the runaway choice for his third straight THB Sports Boys Swimming Athlete of the Year award.

"It's an honor, and I appreciate it a lot," Simpson said. "I'm really proud of myself for being where I am."

His performance at the Fishers sectional this year will be long remembered.

In the preliminaries, Simpson placed first in both the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke, breaking the school record in the former. He came back for the finals and earned a third-place finish in the butterfly but took home the first sectional title for his school since 2017 when he took top prize in the backstroke and broke his own school record in the process.

He qualified for the state finals in both events for the second straight year.

In Indianapolis, he placed 20th in the butterfly and 24th in the backstroke and while neither were the placings he was hoping for, it was a fitting end to a brilliant career that has Simpson leaving Pendleton Heights full of pride at what he has accomplished.

"I'm extremely proud of it, and when I look at it, I'm one of the top 20 in the state. Out of Pendleton, it's fascinating," Simpson said. "It was definitely a lot of growing up. I think it was a very formative career, and I don't think I'd be where I'm at without swimming. I wouldn't change it. I'm really happy with how it turned out."

Simpson plans to study electrical engineering at Purdue next year. He will continue swimming at the club level with hopes he can get the attention of the right people and earn a spot on the Boilermakers' roster.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.