Derek Maas: Out from his brother’s shadow


Caroline Sisson

Silence. Dead silence. Then, an explosion. The pool erupts with sound and energy as Soph. Derek Maas dives in the water at a dual meet. The Panthers are swimming against Zeeland; one of their biggest rivals. Maas is a shoe in to win the 200 Individual Medley, but in this sport anything can happen. Nevertheless, Maas wins the race by a slim margin of about .3 to teammate Jr. Julian Barrios and beats third place Jr. Connor Robertson of Zeeland by almost 5 seconds.

  Maas is a key swimmer for the West Ottawa Boy’s Swim and Dive Team, but he hasn’t always been thought of that way. Maas is the younger brother of Kyle Maas, a junior national finalist, Olympic Trials qualifier, and current swimmer at Alabama University. Kyle has been the face of West Ottawa Swim Club and West Ottawa Swimming since he was 8 years old. Derek doesn’t let this discourage him, though. He has set goals to someday be better than or as good as his brother; “seeing all of Kyle’s accomplishments has motivated me to work hard to match or better his accomplishments,” Derek said.  

  Growing up under the shadow of a sibling can be arduous, but Derek has found a way to use Kyle’s experiences to his advantage: “Watching Kyle swim at big meets has allowed me to see in person what high-level swimming and great technique looks like.” The craziest part; at this point in time, Derek’s times are faster than Kyle’s were at his age. Derek is on the path to eventually be as fast or faster than his brother – something he only dreamed of when he was younger.

  The Maas household is very competitive, and Derek has always had his eyes on his older brother. Since he was young, one of his main goals has always been to be, at some point, as fast or faster than his brother. To gauge this, Derek and his father look at Kyle’s times from when he was Derek’s age and compare them to Derek’s current times. “It’s always fun to see how my times compare to his old times, and doing so increases the competitive spirit of our household,” Derek said. Over the past couple of years, Derek has been slowly gaining on Kyle’s old times.

  During their freshman years, both Kyle and Derek swam the 200 Individual Medley and the 100 backstroke at the Division One Boy’s Swim and Dive State Championship meet. The boys’ times in the 200 Individual Medley were very close; Derek touched in preliminaries with a time of 1:58.92, and Kyle with a time of 1:58.44. In the 100 backstroke, Kyle beat his brother in the preliminaries by only three one-hundredths of a second, an incredibly slim margin in swimming. The boys were nearly even when comparing their freshman year, but Derek was much shorter and slimmer than Kyle was at his age. During their Freshman years, the boys’ times were nearly identical.

  Currently, however, Derek has begun to surpass Kyle’s sophomore times in his in-season events. At the 2013 West Ottawa vs Zeeland dual meet, Kyle swam the 200 Individual Medley in 2:00.47. At the same meet three years later, Derek swam the same event in 1:58.88. The brothers also both swam the 100 backstroke- Kyle swam it in 54.19 and Derek in 53.05. Again at their annual dual meet against Holland Christian, the boys both swam the 200 Individual Medley. Kyle touched with a time of 2:03.76, and Derek with a time of 1:58.21.  

  Derek’s siblings and teammates admire his ongoing hard work and determination to be the best he can be. They agree that the idea of growing up under another’s shadow is unnerving, but Derek manages to do so with ease. Derek’s sister, Jr. Jenna Maas, says she has always known Derek could do great things both in and out of the pool. “I am so proud to be Derek’s sister, and I am so proud of him. He has worked hard his whole life to be the best he can be. We fight a lot (like a lot), but I’m glad that I’m his sister,” Jenna said.

  One of Derek’s best friends and teammates, Soph. Sam Smith, says it is really cool that Derek is on the path to being as fast or faster than his brother. “I’ve known the Maases for forever and I’ve always looked up to Kyle. The idea that Derek may end up being faster than him just based on his times is amazing… he works really hard,” Smith said.

  Another teammate, Frosh. Kyle Langdon, says that he admires Derek’s spirit and determination. “It has been really cool to see Derek grow up and come out of his shell,” Langdon said. “I’ve known him for a really long time and getting to see him accomplish his goals is cool – you always want your teammates to do well.”  

  Coach Steve Bowyer has coached both of the boys since eighth grade. He understands their competitiveness and especially Derek’s drive to be better than his older brother. “I get it; being overshadowed by an older sibling is hard. I can’t imagine not wanting to prove myself and be better. Derek Maas is one of the most hardworking swimmers I have ever coached and he will do great things at West Ottawa and beyond,” Bowyer said.

  Derek Maas has set himself up to be one of the best swimmers to pass through West Ottawa, but he has also set himself up to be as good or better than his brother in the future. With a lot of hard work and determination, there is no doubt that Derek can achieve great things in the future, whether it be in or out of the pool, “Like Kyle, I hope to also swim competitively in college,” Derek said. Keep an eye out for Derek Maas, someone who is sure to make a lasting impact on West Ottawa Swimming.