Spotlight Athlete: Kyle Maas

Jared Arvidson

Slicing through the water, Sr. Kyle Maas increased his lead in the 200 individual medley. Guided by his fluttering kick and his in sync arm motion, he shot through the water and touched the wall finishing first, helping West Ottawa defeat East Kentwood.

 In November 2015, Kyle Maas signed a letter of intent to swim for the Alabama Crimson Tide for his freshmen year of college. Maas has been perfecting his skill in swimming for over 12 years. He started swimming competitively at the age of 5 and joined high-level swim club at  6. Maas grew up swimming, and even as a young boy, he dominated competitions. Due to early development and a quality training program, Maas was able to improve his underwater skills.

 Maas typically competes in the 100 backstroke and the 200 individual medley, which is a 200-yard race that consists of four strokes: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Maas also swims many other events, but those are his two major events that he focuses on. “Kyle’s versatility is amazing. He can get up and race any event and usually get the win,” Sr. Matt DeNave said, who is a fellow WO swimmer. Maas, in his fourth year of swimming for West Ottawa High School, has helped bring in many trophies, including taking third place in the 2014 State Finals.

 Mechanics are one thing that every swimmer must try to perfect. Maas has a natural born skill of swimming, but his ability to work on the little things has really blossomed him into a great swimmer. One thing that Maas has been trying to perfect is his dolphin kick, which he uses while doing the butterfly stroke. The butterfly stroke demands that a swimmer have perfect timing and  be able to move his arms and legs in sync with the correct angles and power. “[Kyle] has worked hard in the weight room to improve leg and core strength, which translates into faster underwater dolphin kicks,” Varsity Swimming Coach Steve Bowyer said.  

  As well as his underwater dolphin kicks, Maas is trying to work on his backstroke to breaststroke turn in the 200 individual medley. Switching strokes from when a swimmer is on his back to being face down is something that every medley swimmer is challenged with. To make a successful turn, a swimmer must perform an underwater flip, while at the same time generating enough strength when pushing off the wall to change his momentum in a split second. Maas has been trying to master this turn, because if performed well, it will help him gain a major advantage over opponents that are not able to do it as well.

Several of Maas’ teammates rave about his mental toughness, and work ethic and his naturally skill. “Kyle is always trying to improve the little things in his strokes and kicks, he is always in the pool trying to master a stroke, or in the weight room building up his strength,” Sr. Gabe Moura said. Along with mental toughness and work ethic, Maas’ teammates also say that Maas’ experience gives him a step up over the competition. When it comes to Maas’ experience not many people have as much experience as him. “Through lots of U.S. experience, Kyle has also developed a great mental toughness. He has been in every big meet situation there is,” Bowyer said. Since the age of 6, Maas has been swimming for the USA team. This opportunity has allowed him to swim against very skilled swimmers and has provided a great training staff that has allowed him to blossom into such a great swimmer.

 Whether it is working on his dolphin kicks and underwater turns, or lifting in the weight room, Maas is always working himself very hard. “I am always trying to find the little things that I am doing wrong. Whether my timing is slightly off on my turns, my kicking isn’t as powerful as I would like it to be, or I’m getting off to a slow start, I am always looking for ways to reduce my time because something as little as not putting enough power when I turn could end up costing me a race,” Maas said. Maas’ work ethic and his drive to become a better swimmer have really helped him become such a star and ultimately has led him to get a spot on the Alabama swim team.