Connor Green has a hard time coming up with what defines him besides swimming. It may be because at this point in his life, swimming does define him.
The 16-year-old Milton resident spends at least three hours a day, every day, in the pool swimming nearly 70,000 yards a week. He does not have much of a social life and says that when school is in session, he does most of his homework in the car.
But his hard work is paying off.
Green competed at his first US Olympic Trials in Omaha late last month, swimming against some of the world’s best, including Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
He did not earn a spot on the US team or a trip to London, but the 6-foot-2 Green still is one of the top two backstrokers in the country for his age, and well on his way to making the 2016 or 2020 team, according to his coach, Chuck Batchelor.
‘My parents support me, my coach gives me the opportunity, but it comes down to me. There has to be a fire or a hunger to do what you’ve never done before.’
“Connor’s good enough that I want him looking to the very best in the world as competition, not just this country, because within two years, he could be one of the top backstrokers in the world,’’ said Batchelor of the rising junior at Boston College High School.
Green’s journey in swimming began at age 7, when he joined a summer league team in Cohasset. Since then, he’s moved to the Bluefish Swim Club under the direction of Batchelor and during the past year, has made what he and his coach called a “rapid progression.’’
“When he came to us [in 2009], he was a decent swimmer, but he was by no means one of the top swimmers in New England,’’ Batchelor said. “But since then he’s really bought into what I’ve been trying to teach him.’’
In March 2011, Green qualified for the junior nationals; by May, he had registered cut times for the nationals. In August, he had secured a trip to the Olympic Trials, and last month, he broke the New England resident 200-meter backstroke record for his age group with a time of 2:01:72.
At the trials, seeded 61st in the 400 intermediate medley, he dropped 1.7 seconds off his time and placed 32d. He was seeded 70th in the 100 backstroke, dropped .42 seconds, and placed 41st. Seeded 23d in the 200 backstroke, he swam a 2:02.10, finishing 21st.
Green says his desire to see what else he can do keeps him motivated through tough losses or on days when he doesn’t feel up to crawling out of bed.
“My parents support me, my coach gives me the opportunity, but it comes down to me,’’ he said. “There has to be a fire or a hunger to do what you’ve never done before.’’
And it’s not just mental hunger. Green says he’s always eating and requires about 5,000 calories to keep up his strength and restore energy.
“Oh man, I’m always hungry,’’ he said with a small laugh. “I basically eat all day and, honestly, sometimes it gets annoying, especially when all I want to do after practice is lay on the couch and I don’t have the energy to even walk to the kitchen.’’
His parents, Dorothy and Terry, drive him about 30 minutes each day, to and from practice at Attleboro High in the morning and at night. But it’s a task his mother, says is just one of many she’s glad to do to help him achieve his goals.
“A lot of Connor’s success is him,’’ said his mother. “When it comes to parenting, it’s really just about providing the support, being there for the times when there’s great excitement and being there when there when there’s disappointment.’’
However, she also tries to make sure her son doesn’t lose sight of the balance between swimming, school, and life.
“I try to make sure he’s still having fun,’’ she said. “They travel a lot and at first it’s a hard adjustment, but when you’re at the Olympic Trials, you realized why you do it, and keeping that the balance really helps.’’
In the coming year, Green says he will continue to train in the water and out. He’ll participate at the US Open Aug. 7-11 in Indianapolis and has high hopes for the World Championship trials at the end of next year. He’s also looking forward to the the college recruitment process, and meeting with prospective coaches.
“I want to continue to reach not for what is impossible, but for what is just about impossible,’’ he said.
But until then, Green says he’s excited to see how some of his fellow athletes, in particular Bluefish teammate Elizabeth Beisel, perform in London.
“I'll mostly be watching it to enjoy it, but I’m sure I will still see them as competition, because I hope to be in their position in four years representing the US,’’ he said.