Will Modglin Named Swimming World Magazine H.S. Swimmer of the Year

Will Modglin Tabbed As Swimming World Magazine High School Swimmer of the Year

The best competition brings out the finest in great swimmers. That is exactly what happened this past high school season with Zionsville junior Will Modglin, who was named Swimming World’s 2021-22 Male High School Swimmer of the Year.

At the high school level, Carmel High School swimmers at the Indiana State Championships have consistently provided some of the toughest competition the country has to offer. Rival swimmer Will Modglin, a junior from Zionsville High School, located about 10 miles from Carmel, met that challenge by winning the 200-yard individual medley and 100 backstroke in two of the nation’s top performances by high school swimmers this season.

His prelim time in the 200 IM was 1:44.10, the third-fastest of any high school swim during the school year (he went 1:45.11 in the finals). In the prelims of his 100 back, he went 46.05, the fastest high school swim in the country, before winning with a 46.16. He also put together the top score in power points—177.1 back and 175.0 IM for a total of 352.1—to secure his selection as Swimming World’s High School Swimmer of the Year.

“I feel really good about the high school season,” Modglin told Swimming World. “It was a good season overall. My prelims session of the (Indiana state) meet was awesome, but the finals weren’t the best—yet I was still happy with how it turned out. It was really about keeping the same momentum from last year, when I had a very good year (No. 2 in the country behind Oklahoma’s Aiden Hayes), and I wanted to keep that going moving forward.

“We had a lot of motivated guys this year, and it created an awesome practice atmosphere. We pushed each other every day in practice.”

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

That is because his teammates knew that a showdown with Carmel was on the horizon, and Zionsville—even being one of the top high school teams in the country—did not have enough depth to unseat Carmel.

“It is honestly a lot of respect,” Modglin said. “We know our team is good, but Carmel is even better. Everyone hates to lose, but at the end of the day, we have tons of respect for them. We know when we are swimming against them, and when they are swimming against us, that we all push each other to go faster. There is a lot of mutual respect.”

And a lot of hard work to get to that point.

“Having three months off due to the COVID outbreak in the end probably helped him, as I think Will came back more refreshed,” Zionsville coach Scott Kubly told Current, a weekly local newspaper serving Zionsville. “He worked hard all season long and was rewarded for that hard work with two (individual) state titles.”


Competing for the Indiana championship was a fun memory Modglin and his teammates won’t soon forget.

“High school swimming is definitely more about the team,” Modglin said. “We want team success as a whole. When you go to state, everyone wants to bring back a state championship to their school, even a runner-up. It is more fun swimming for the team. The high school state (meet) comes down so much more to points than a club meet. I am still looking for that in club, but it is different.”


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

In high school, Modglin is focused on his two main events instead of swimming multiple events at a club meet. That team focus in high school has especially helped his backstroke. Modglin said he was a breaststroker and IMer before putting things together in the backstroke.

“This past year, it was definitely my wheelhouse set of events coming off of my sophomore year. I won both of the events last year, so I was familiar with those. They are my two best individual events. It was also where the team needed me, so it worked out perfectly in that sense,” he said.

“The 100 back—personally, it is my underwater. That is a strong suit for me, especially underwater on my back. It helps me have a really strong 100 back, which allows me to excel in that event instead of the 100 fly or 100 breast.”

That change took place during middle school.

“It kind of all happened when I was about 12. That is when I kind of broke out in backstroke. Before that, I really was a breaststroker,” he said. “I swam the 100 back at my state meet at 12 and did pretty well. I was trying to do my underwater to 15 at that point. Once I saw that success doing those underwaters, I saw success in my races and started focusing on that.”


That success didn’t slow down and continued all the way to qualifying for last year’s U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha. He finished among the top 40 in his best events, and it was a huge step toward becoming a better swimmer.

“Olympic Trials was the most stressful meet in which I’ve ever competed,” he admitted. “The 100 back is my best event long course, and we had to do that right away. I was in the last circle-seeded heat. It was something walking out that I will never forget. I didn’t even eat before, and I didn’t even realize that until later. It gave me so much more confidence after swimming at that meet. That was one of my first experiences swimming against the pros and the top college guys.

“But it made me feel like I was supposed to be there. It allows me to take a deep breath.”

That should make everything different at the 2024 Trials.

“It definitely gives me a large focus for 2024. I knew going into Trials, I was pretty young, and unless I was dropping something humungous, I was just using Trials as a learning experience. I knew I would have the chance again,” he said.


Modglin has one more year at Zionsville High School, but he’s already committed to the University of Texas.

“Texas is just something special. It didn’t even cross my mind when recruiting was starting because I didn’t think I was good enough. I had schools in mind, but the environment of the people at Texas really was a great feel. I knew once I was on campus, I could see myself being here for the next four years. It just checked off all the boxes. It is something special to have the chance to join that program. It is hard to put into words,” he said.

His performances during the high school and club seasons plus the knowledge that he his headed to Texas keeps Modglin focused on both of his short-term and long-term goals.

“Short-term goals: Junior Nationals at the end of the summer…and I’m going to rip some new best times long-course. I haven’t had the best couple of long-course seasons. I want to go there and have a good meet, then short-course winter junior nats,” he said.

“Long-term: Obviously, I want to do well at Trials and doing everything I can in these next couple years to try and put myself up there on that Texas roster when I come in and keep improving.”

One thing’s for sure: He isn’t going to sneak up on anyone—especially since we now know that the best competition brings out the best in this Male High School Swimmer of the Year.