BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — There was never any doubt in the mind of Shenendehowa boys’ swimming and diving head coach Chuck Dunham that Luke Gordon had the chance to be good.
Maybe even great.
Gordon’s older brother — Ryan, now a sophomore at Indiana University — was a six-time All-American and four-time state champion during his high school career for the Plainsmen. So, Dunham knew that Gordon could be special, too.
“But one of the challenges you have when you have a highly successful older sibling is you need to create your own path, your own story,” Dunham said. “That’s harder because you have big shoes to fill.”
Gordon, a senior, successfully carved out his own legacy at Shenendehowa during his five-year varsity career, and capped his stay with the Plainsmen with a pair of top-five finishes at this year’s state championships. In the 100 breaststroke at the state championships, he broke his own Section II record with a mark of 56.46 to come in third place.
After the completion of the 2015-16 season, coaches tabbed Gordon as the Section II Division I Athlete of the Year for boys’ swimming and diving. Gordon was also a first-team all-area pick, along with teammates Joey Homan and Nick Lydon, while Ian Killane was a second-team selection.
Gordon will continue his swim career in college, likely at either Boston University, the University at Buffalo, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, or RPI. Wherever the swimmer ends up, Dunham is sure Gordon will find his own way.
“That’s the thing I’m proudest of with Luke,” Dunham said. “He had such big shoes to fill … and for him to both live up to that and forge his own path, it was great to watch.”
Your Clifton Park & Halfmoon recently caught up with Gordon to talk about his swimming career.
Q: How did you get into swimming?
A: I was 7 when I started competing, so it’s coming up on 11 years now. My brother had taken swim lessons and somehow got into competitive swimming from there, and … being 7 years old, I wanted to be just like my older brother. It stuck, and I’m still doing it.
Q: Did you play any other sports growing up?
A: I played soccer for a while, until about sixth grade. That’s when I decided to pick one or the other because they were getting more time-demanding and I couldn’t balance it all. … I didn’t want to pick — it was a very hard choice — but there’s something about swimming for me.
Q: What is it about swimming?
A: I’m a really competitive person and the thing about swimming is there’s no gray area when you’re in a race as to who is better. With other sports — soccer, lacrosse, football — you can’t always put two guys next to each other and easily choose who is better. In swimming, you have to go out and beat the guy right next to you.
Q: What surprised you most in your career with the Plainsmen?
A: When I first started out, I thought [the swim team] was exclusive to people who’d been swimming club and stuff like that their whole lives. But after being on the team for five years, I’ve seen you can try swimming and be on your varsity team. There’s a lot of guys that weren’t swimmers before being on the team and they’ve grown to become really important parts of the team. With a lot of hard work, a lot of kids can make amazing things happen.