Senior swimmers quite a quartet for Cyclones

By Jeff Birchfield
Just as the barber shop quartet is pretty much a thing of the past, Elizabethton head coach Jonell Johnson knows the time is coming when she will lose a swimming quartet that has been the heart and soul of the Cyclone team.
The foursome of Evan Lindauer, Craig Shaw, Eric Crowe and Blake Dugger has helped Johnson's swim team score some of its biggest all-time victories.
"They're four really strong leaders," said Johnson. "It's going to be tough losing four guys who are top swimmers on the team. I've known Evan since he was in fifth grade, coming to the pool watching his older siblings swim.
"Blake came out of the county schools, but the other three swam for me at the junior high."
The boys themselves have formed a tight bond and consider their friendship more important than individual accomplishments.
"I wouldn't trade anything for being on the swim team with this group of guys," said Lindauer. "They've been like family. We have an awesome coach and it was great swimming with my brother Jeremy. It's awesome having a group of people you can go home to at practice and be friends. We cheer for each other, help each other and give constructive criticism."
Shaw added: "We all swam together since junior high and we are all really good friends. We've been like a family and this has been some of the best times we've had in our high school careers."
Each of the four has a particular event he's ready for at tomorrow's regional swim meet.
"I'm really looking forward to the 100 back(stroke)," said Shaw. "I really hope to make the state in that. I'm only about a second away from it."
Shaw has already qualified for the state in the 200 freestyle, an event anticipated by Lindauer.
"I'm looking forward to the 200 free," said Lindauer. "I think in the regional meet I have a good chance at a top three. In the state I think I can make the top 16, which has been my ultimate goal all season. I've been working hard toward that."
Crowe is ready for an event his older brother, Charlie, holds the school record in.
"I'm looking for the 50 free," said Crowe. "I think I'm ranked 10th in the conference. I think that I can do better."
Dugger is ready to showcase his versatility in an event that incorporates all four strokes.
"I like the 200 I.M.," said Dugger. "I hadn't done it much before this year. I've already made the state in it and I'm ready for the 100 (butter)fly as well. I'm hoping for a top three in the conference."
After suffering a shoulder injury on the football field, Lindauer was left with a choice. Either take a chance returning to the gridiron, which meant missing swim season, or rehabilitating and missing football. Even though football is king at EHS, Lindauer had unfinished business in the pool.
"The doctors told me that I could take a couple of weeks off and try to finish the football season," said Lindauer. "There was no guarantee it wouldn't dislocate again. If it did, I would miss swim season completely.
"So I decided to take off the rest of the football season, so I could swim. I'm very glad that I did."
Crowe and Lindauer both had high standards to live up to with their older siblings holding many of the Elizabethton school records.
Each of them has made left a great mark in his own right. All four of the swimmers have qualified for the state in at least one event this season.
"Charlie had some school records I would have liked to beat, but that's not going to happen," said Crowe. "He's in Hawaii now in the Army and it makes me what to do this even more, knowing that he swam. It pushes me on knowing his name is up there (on the record board)."
Lindauer, who qualified for the 200 I.M. on Wednesday, added: "I think it helps a lot. I can talk to my brother anytime I want to. With his experience, he knows what he's talking about. It gives you something to compete with. I look at the record board and see Jeremy up there, I try to beat him."
After high school each has different plans for the future.
The son of Doug and Ruth Ann Lindauer wanted to make sure his athletic career was furthered, stating a desire to continue swimming in college. The son of Glen and Kay Shaw had a preference for getting an engineering degree from one of the prestigious programs at Georgia Tech or Purdue.
The son of Larry and Glen Crowe has already been accepted to Tusculum College, where he plans on playing soccer. Steve and Janet Dugger's son plans on attending ETSU, working toward a degree in sports medicine.
You can't blame Johnson for being sentimental about their departures from the team.
"It will probably be a while before I can find a group of swimmers to replace them," said Johnson. "I'm going to miss all of them and their parents. Mrs. Crowe and Mrs. Dugger help keep scores at all of our home meets. They have always been there to help.
"The Shaws host the entire team at their house. They've been the "swim parents" the last few years. I've had a Lindauer on the team every year since I've been here. I will really miss them next season."
Asked if they wanted to add anything about their time as EHS swimmers, this group, which Johnson referred to as spiritual leaders, said in unison, "We all have to thank Jesus."