King of the Hills

Carter Hill isn’t an everyday swimmer, and his accomplishments reflect that.


Parker Maroney

Joe Hunt (left) and Carter Hill lead the team cheer at the 2019 District meet. Hill signed with Northern Michigan on Wednesday.

Parker Maroney, Staff Writer

When people hear the name Hill at Smithson Valley, they usually don’t think of a swimmer. They think of Hall of Fame football coach Larry Hill.

But senior swimmer Carter Hill has achieved some great things as well.

Hill helped set a state record while swimming the second leg of 2019’s legendary 200 medley relay team, which set the standard with a time of 1:30.79. This year, he’s looking for more of the same. 

For now, his main motivation is district competition, but with an eye on what lies beyond.

This year will be Hill’s fourth at Smithson Valley, but his first with new coach David James, who took over as the head aquatics coach. The previous coach, Kari Osborne, took a new gig as head aquatics director for Northside ISD. 

Since taking over, James has made some changes.

“Coach James has changed a couple things for me this year, the main thing being more yardage in our practices,” Hill said. “This helps build my endurance up, which I believe to be my weak point as a sprinter.”

But it’s more than just the practices . According to Hill, this year has been different from any other.

“This year feels so much different than every other year,” Hill said. “I’ve never gone home after every practice, and not [shown] up to school again until the next morning.

“With doing distanced learning, I feel more disconnected from all of my teammates. This year, there’s also a lot of things in training we have to be careful and pay attention to. Despite this, I feel like the team has done a good job of doing the best we can to help each other out.”

While practices changed, and the social distancing is a new development, Hill said the swimming part has stayed the same.

“My first three years were pretty similar [to each other], in a way that, me and the other guys on the team were very close because of how much time we spent together in club,” he said. “On the swimming side, Coach Osborne let us do more, and more what we thought we needed to do, in order to get faster and meet our goal of the state record.”

Hill keeps his eye on the upcoming championship season.

“With the challenges we’ve had this year, [including] not getting to find water time, I’m really interested in seeing [whether], despite those challenges, if I can drop a considerable amount of time,” he said.

Hill attributed a lot of his success to Osborne, who trained him for three years.

“There’s so many people that helped me get to where I am right now, and without any of them, I don’t think I could’ve [made] it,” Hill said. “[But] if I had to pick one, I would have to say Coach Osborne.

“She constantly pushed me to keep [up] with the upperclassmen, and because of that I built really good relationships with them and got invited to a private training group, [which] allowed me to get a huge boost in my training. This led to me dropping the most time I have in any of my seasons.”

While Hill may be ending his stay at Smithson Valley soon, his time in the pool has not yet come: he signed to Northern Michigan University on Wednesday. 

For now, though, his focus is on the path back to state.