By Andy Ross
2015 was a breakout year for Grant House. He made the team to compete at the World Junior Championships in Singapore in the 4×200 free relay, where he anchored to win gold and set a new World Junior record.
He was 17-years-old and his best time in the 200 free was a 1:49.53. But it stayed that way for nearly three full years.
It wasn’t until this last weekend in Columbus, when House, now 20, finally went a long course best time.
House was in the B-Final of the 400 free on Friday night. In the morning he had his best 400 free prelim swim, but he “didn’t go out for it” like he should have.
At night, the Arizona State coaches told him to go for it by giving him “the green light.”
“I didn’t really care what happened, but the coaches knew I could do it,” House said after the meet on Sunday night. “I just had to go out, put it out there. We’ve done the training, day in and day out, the coaches knew I could do it. It was just a matter of if I told myself I could do it.”
House swam his best time by nearly three full seconds. Breaking four minutes for the first time since 2016 YMCA Nationals with a 3:55.98, and beating his best time from four years ago when he was only 16.
“It was definitely a big confidence boost,” House said about the 400. “It’s exciting to see those results pop up, even when you’re not shaved or by any means tapered.”
In the 200 free on Friday night, House swam in the A-Final, and lowered his personal best for the first time in three years going a 1:49.13. It was the first time he had even broken 1:50 in the event since 2015 Summer Nationals, when he made the Junior Worlds team.
And he’s not even tapered yet.
But not improving in his best events in three years was obviously not easy for House, who relied on his support system to get him through the tough times. He credited both his parents and his sister, but gave a special thanks to his older brother, Kyle.
“Any time a meet didn’t go the way I wanted, he would keep saying, ‘head up, the best is yet to come.'” House also credited his dad for reassuring him that “the hay was in the barn,” and that was the kind of help he needed to get him through meets and seasons when he wasn’t seeing improvement.
“It might not be the results I want that one day, but in some aspects the work is totaled up. The hay is in the barn.”
And that’s why House came to Arizona State. To find answers.
“ASU was everything I asked for and much much more,” he said.
“I learned more than I thought was possible in less than a year.”
House was a very promising young age group swimmer. He was dubbed Swimming World’s featured age grouper of the month in June 2013, was a high school All-American as a freshman in 2014, and on the Junior Worlds team in 2015.
But after 2015, House didn’t see much improvement. He wasn’t going best times after two big summers in a row. He was close to last place in the 2016 Olympic Trials in his lone event, the 200 free. It was around that time that he started training other strokes to take a break from freestyle, as well as to try something new.
In 2017 for his senior year, he went a best time in the 200 yards free (1:34.52), but couldn’t quite put it together that summer at World Trials, only managing a 1:51.
When he went to Arizona State in the fall of 2017, he knew that things would start to turn around. The coaches in Tempe were giving him the confidence he needed to swim fast.
House began to raise the level of training he was at. He became more focused on his swimming and raised his own level of excellence he needed to succeed every day, making every length of the pool worth something.
“That’s the whole reason I came to Tempe, to find that new level of excellence. And I thought no better way to find that level than to be with, in my opinion, the greatest coach of all-time.”
House just finished his freshman year, where he was an Honorable Mention All-American in the 200 freestyle, placing 14th overall at NCAA’s in March. But this past season was just a stepping stone for House, as he believes the final pieces of the puzzle are being put in place.
Has he found any answers yet?
“We’re starting to. In the words of Coach Bowman, we are starting to see some ‘man swims’ out there.”
What the final completed puzzle looks like is unknown. But House is training better than he ever has, and he might be seeing that completed puzzle soon.