When Eddie Mapel was 10 years old, he won an age group state championship in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Success seemed to come easy for the gifted swimmer.
Following the victory, however, Mapel underwent a difficult stretch when he went a long time without seeing the medal stand again.
“I don’t think I realized how big of a deal (the championship) was at the time,” said Mapel, who graduated from Hinsdale Central this spring. “I was so young. I can look back now and see that I had potential. It was pretty tough after I won it. I didn’t let it bother me too much. I mostly focused on my stroke and kept training to get back to that level.”
Mapel, who plans to swim at Missouri, credits his father John and longtime Westmont Swim Club coach Adam Cremieux with getting him through those tough times. Those formative years helped set the stage for his swimming success today.
“He had a hard time,” said Cremieux, who has coached Mapel for nine years.
“He didn’t really grow for a couple years and he weighed maybe 80 pounds. He wasn’t placing at state. It’s difficult after you have so much success as a 10-year-old. He kept pushing through it and has been able to do some big things. He’s still a little Q-tip, but he’ll bulk up and do extremely well at Missouri.”
Mapel’s recent list of accomplishments is quite impressive. A summer highlight was competing in the 100 breast at the U.S. Open July 30-Aug. 3 in Irvine, Calif.
“It was pretty awesome,” Mapel said. “I was lucky to get there. It was my goal to get the cut in the 100 breast and I was able to pull through. I wanted to compete at the next level before going to college. It was mostly about the experience. I wanted to take everything in and have fun.”
As a senior, he helped Hinsdale Central place second at state last winter when he finished third in the 100 breast and was on the Red Devils’ 200-yard medley relay, which took second and earned All-American status.
Cremieux says Mapel’s talent was obvious from the get-go when he first joined the program.
“Eddie is one of those kids that you can’t stop looking at (in the pool),” Cremieux said. “Whether he’s three bodies’ lengths ahead or behind, you’re still looking for him. He’s a special kid. The character on Eddie is unbelievable. The way he handles himself and his way with the team is great.”
Despite his success in the sport, Mapel didn’t seriously consider the possibility of swimming at a top Division I school until last summer.
“I dropped a lot of time and that’s when it hit me that, ‘Wow! Maybe I can swim at some (Division I) schools,’ ” said Mapel, who plans to study engineering. “It’s kind of cool to see how much faster I can get at Missouri. I really love the coaches there. They have brought the team up and now they’re an up-and-coming team in the NCAA rankings. Their facilities are top notch and I just love that the school has a great balance between swimming and academics.”