Jeffrey Durmer poses for a portrait at the Dynamo Swim Center in Chamblee on May 15, 2017. After pacing first in both the 200m freestyle and 500m freestyle and leading his team to place first all-around at the 2017 GHSA Swimming Championships, Durmer went on to swim in the 2017 Southern Premier Championships. He swims for both St. Pius and Dynamo, and will swim for Northwestern University. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)
Photo: Henry P. Taylor
Photo: Henry P. Taylor

High school boys swimming player of the year

Boys Swimming Player of the Year

Jeffrey Durmer, St. Pius

Achievements: 2016 Nashville sectionals 800-meter free and 400m IM champion; 2015-16 Olympic trials, Class A-AAAAA state champion

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 180 pounds

Class: Senior

College choice: Signed with Northwestern

Why Northwestern: I had a lot of choices to make. UGA, UVA, Northwestern, etc. I did not even see Northwestern coming. I went on my trip, the last trip I took, as an official visit. I ended up making the decision because a lot of my family lives there and it is just a great campus and a great team. I feel like I could be a leader because we have no incoming sophomore class. So I will be the oldest on the team my junior and senior year. So I believe I could be a really great leader at Northwestern. The academics are outstanding, and I really thought it would be a great place to go and to get better. They’ve had an Olympian this year in long-distance events. So I feel like they are a good choice for me, training-wise. And like I said, the academics are outstanding. They have engineering which, combined with the arts, would be a really good choice. That is really all I had to decide on, and I figured it out pretty easily. Virginia had a pretty compelling argument though, but Northwestern is a really great school, so I am pretty excited.

Best high school moment: I probably have two, well actually three. Making the Olympic trials was one of the great ones. Watching two of my former teammates make the Olympics, with Gunnar Bentz and Jay Litherland, that was really crazy and really emotional. But in my high school career, my freshman year winning state championships with Gunnar Bentz and then repeating that with my friend, Grant Summers, who is also a diver, as well as all my friends from Pius. We won it freshman year and senior year so that was great. And winning the 500 and winning my events for my team, that was probably the best.

Why swimming: When I was younger I used to covet everything my sisters did. I didn’t understand why they got to do things I didn’t get to do. Why they had a bigger suit than me. Why do they get to wear a big suit and I have to wear this tiny Speedo. I would yell at my parents. It got to the point where I would force them to let me wear a girl’s swimsuit. So I would show up at the pool with a girl’s suit on. I’d watch them in practice and get so mad. I would say, “I need to get in there, why am I not swimming? Why am I not allowed to swim with them?” They said I was too small, too small, too young. But I just kept pushing. It was annoying; I needed to be in that pool; I needed to be with them; I needed to compete. I was actually 4 when I got into the pool and started swimming. And then, you’re only allowed to start competing around 8, but I started when I was 6 because I just wanted to start young. I pushed myself to go get in the water every chance I got. They had this baby-pool thing, and I was not happy about it. I’d be swimming with these young kids who weren’t even into the sport, and I was just watching my sisters do all these crazy things. It was mostly my sisters and the competitiveness in our family. Julie and Haley Durmer. Haley just graduated Virginia and was a swimmer all four years at Virginia. Julia swam a year at Virginia and now she is swimming at Emory, where she just won an NCAA title for Emory. So I have some work to do.

What you’d like to be doing in 10 years: You know, in 10 years I see myself in engineering. If swimming goes well, I would stay in that. I want to make it to the finals of the Olympic trials. I want to be there. I want to squeeze all the juice out of swimming that I can get. I want to take trips using swimming. In 10 years, I would say I would be happy being an engineer. Engineering is my call, for sure. I really like mechanical engineering. But if swimming works out, then swimming works out. Mechanical engineering has just been a thing with me. My dad was a national rower and put together these boats and I was amazed. He would put these radios on the boats so he could talk to coaches. It was actually pretty cool. I watched him put it together in this cabin we have in South Dakota in the middle of nowhere. He would put these boats together in the middle of nowhere and would show me that. It was really compelling. I just love putting things together. I am obsessed with all these little things. If I can use my hands then I love it.

Favorite high school course: It has to be physics. I love everything physics, and it just makes sense to me. My teacher is great, and he really loves being part of the class. He loves giving projects that are really artistic and get you motivated to finish and really want the grade. But it makes you really want to explore physics and not just chase the grade. Physics just clicked with me.

People who helped along the way: Well, my sisters, they pushed me the most. My coach, Scott Carter, has to be one of the biggest influences on me. He is a lacrosse coach, but he is crazy about swimming. His heart, his push and drive are crazy. Then Jason Turcotte, my club coach, he has to be another big influence. I always want to do better for him. He makes me want to get better. But all my coaches throughout the years. Anyone who has ever pushed me to be the best I can, all the people, my parents.

Toughest high school opponent: I would have to say my toughest opponent, hmm … I used to swim with this guy, Noah Oh. He is not swimming anymore, but he had this crazy drive. If he wanted to win, he was going to win. So I always wanted to beat him. Always looking to beat him. If I could get in front of him, I knew I was doing well. I would say that he pushed me the most as a teammate. He would go crazy in practice and I would do it also.

Favorite movie: I will have to think about it. I would have to say “Rocky” has to be the greatest movie I’ve ever seen.

Favorite song: Hmm, favorite song, oh jeez, I would have to say “Slide” by Calvin Harris.

Worst high school moment: Well, having to leave the sport for two weeks to go to Spain and coming back and not being at the top of the food chain for a while. But, um, I mean, that was kind of sad. And also, watching friends leave the sport. My friend, Noah Oh, when he stopped swimming that was really sad. That was all sad. All of these people quitting the sport because they lost interest. That’s always hard.

If you could be any other athlete on earth: I would have to choose LeBron James. That guy is a freaking athlete. He doesn’t stop. I don’t think he ever will. He goes non-stop. He is just non-stop going as hard as he can. I would definitely say LeBron James.

Money or happiness: Happiness, absolutely. Money can’t buy happiness. People could feel happy when they have money, but it is just not the same. Definitely happiness.

Best word to describe yourself: I would say competitive.

View of the world at this moment: Well, there is a lot of hatred and a lot of bad things going on. But I feel like there is a lot of positive stuff going on, as well. You have nations dropping bombs everywhere. I mean, the Syrian bomb, it is sad that we had to come to that. But it was probably, I would say, the right choice. But it sucked it had to come to that. It comes to war and hatred, and I wish we could just all come together just as human beings. We are not different races, and we shouldn’t look at it like that. We are all human beings. Whether African, Syrian, from the Middle East, American, it doesn’t matter. We should work together to make this world a better place to further what we have already done.

What you would put in a time capsule: I would definitely choose pictures. The pictures of my past, friends and family. All the pictures. So basically, my mom has taken pictures of everything. She has huge binders filled with hundreds of pictures, probably thousands. It is ridiculous. All of these memories, I could look at them all day. All day. I love to see what crazy things we used to do and what we used to have to do. The advances that we have now and the fun we had then. Also, people lost, like my grandpa, we have pictures of him. So the memories and the pictures, that is what I would choose.