When Peter Grumhaus’ baseball career ended after the budding 11-year-old pitcher tumbled off his bicycle and broke his elbow in three places, swimming for a state championship was the furthest thing from his mind.
Last year, as a Lake Forest High School freshman, Grumhaus did exactly that in two events.
Now, as a sophomore and team leader, Grumhaus looks back without regret at the events that helped him lead the Scouts to a fourth-place finish at Saturday's North Suburban Conference meet at the Lake Forest pool.
“Baseball was my only sport then. It was really disappointing,” said Grumhaus, recalling the injury five years ago. “My mom suggested swimming.”
Peter’s mother, Diane Grumhaus, remembers she recognized very quickly a change was necessary to preserve her son’s competitive spirit and love of sports.
“He needed three pins in his elbow. He never pitched the same way again,” said Diane Grumhaus, recalling how quickly her son was successful in the pool. “He showed a great trajectory. We saw results at once.”
Peter joined Scout Aquatics under the tutelage of the club’s director and head girls’ swim coach Carolyn Grevers. He too realized his potential in the pool soon.
“I knew I could be really good when I took first or second in all my events,” Peter said.
Grumhaus not only developed his talent, but his competitive nature propelled him to success. That attitude was evident Saturday when he took second in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:46.17, shaving nearly four seconds off his best performance of the season. He also grabbed third in the 100 backstroke in 54.84.
“He’s always competitive. He stuck to his plan and outgained him (500 freestyle winner Danny Conway of Warren) in the second half of the race,” said Lake Forest Coach Cindy Dell on how Grumhaus narrowed the gap in the last 200 yards of the event.
A drop in time as significant as Grumhaus’ performance in the 500 freestyle usually only comes after end of the season tapering, but in this case there was no tapering at all, according to Dell.
Grumhaus noticed he had energy to spare at the end of the 500 freestyle to have performed even better.
“I was kicking fast and my breathing was easy,” said Grumhaus.
He will have a chance for more at Saturday’s Vernon Hills Sectional Meet and the State Meet a week later at New Trier. He has already recorded times well below the state qualifying standard in the 500 freestyle and is barely a tenth of a second away from duplicating the feat in the 100 backstroke.
Grumhaus and his teammates slated to swim at sectionals begin the tapering process today (Monday), which should reduce their times even further.
While success in swimming is dependent on individual achievement, one of the reasons Grumhaus prefers the pool over baseball is he sees swimming as more of a team sport. He likes the bonding.
“The individual effort is in the meets. We become a team in practice,” said fellow Scout Bryan Bunning, who took third behind Grumhaus in the 100 backstroke (54.94) and fourth in the 100 butterfly (53.79). Bunning has already surpassed state qualifying standards in both events.
As the stakes rise over the next two weeks, the team bonding will become more intense.
“We all work hard together in practice and feel the pain together. We complain about it together,” said Grumhaus. “That’s how we bond as a team.”