Morford mops up record
When Casey Morford left his home east of Vinland this fall, he wanted to make a big splash at the University of Evansville. By the time his freshman season came to an end, he'd done just that setting a school record in the 200-meter butterfly.
Not bad for someone who graduated from Baldwin High School, which doesn't have a pool, much less a swim team.
"I was pretty surprised myself and happy as well," said Morford, a 2000 graduate of BHS, about the record. "I guess I proved to myself that nothing is impossible. When I first came to Evansville, the record was in the back of my mind, but not a real goal for the season. But as the season progressed I realized that I could take a shot at it.
"I came within a tenth of a second at conference and then broke it by just over a second a week later," said Morford. "Now for a guy from a school with no team and pool, I guess that's a pretty decent accomplishment. You just have to be dedicated enough to drive to Lawrence every day and workout at the early hours of the morning."
Morford was a member of the Lawrence Aquahawks for eight years and made the trip for the early morning practices. It all began paying off for him when college's began showing interest. His school-record time of 1:51.6 in the 200-meter butterfly proves the coaches were correct to be interested in Morford. He credits his Aquahawks coaches, Brian Beatty and Brian Barnes, for making that happen.
"Brian Barnes showed me what swimming can do for me," he said. "At one time I wasn't really thinking about swimming in college, but he helped me write to some schools and get them interested in me. He once told me I was the best-kept secret in the Missouri Valley, because I have growing to do and college will bring out new levels of swimming for me.
"I owe a lot to Brian for all that he has done for me," said Morford. "I probably wouldn't be here in Evansville if it weren't for him and his numerous contacts and friends in the swimming community as well as his beliefs in what I can do."
Barnes has more than just helped the male Morford. He's also been instrumental in the development of Casey's twin sisters, Amanda and Megan, seniors at BHS who have signed to swim for the University of Missouri next year.
"I think my sisters have benefited from Barnes' coaching as well," said Morford. "They are going to attend MU next year, a school that I had also looked at. I know they have a great college career ahead of them and it will be fun to see them at dual meets."
He also gives a lot of credit to his parents, John and Laura Morford, for making the swimming in college dream come true.
"My parents have also played a big part in swimming," said Morford. "They support me and my sisters and whatever decisions we make. They are always happy with our performances in swimming, even if we don't perform that great. Just as long as we've tried our best. They have been very supportive of me here at Evansville, even if I don't call every other day. From being here, I've grown to appreciate my parents even more and everything they have done for me."
Of course there's more than just swimming for Morford, who ran track and cross country at BHS. He's always been interested in computers and created the BHS Web site while in high school. Now he's even more involved as a computer engineering major.
"As far as the college and swimming goes, it's very tough to juggle all of it at once," he said. "I took 19 hours last semester, swam and pledged to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, as well as took on the role as treasurer of Hale Hall. I don't know why, but I seem to always keep myself overloaded with things to do, but I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I complete everything.
"Being a computer engineer major, my classes are not too easy, either," Morford said. "To give you an idea, computer engineering consists of two-thirds of the credit for computer science and two-thirds of the electrical engineering degree, so I will have about 140 hours completed when I graduate. I ended up with a 3.2 (grade-point average) for my first semester, which I was pretty happy with. I had the highest freshman guy's GPA on the swim team."
And there was plenty of good to come for Morford on the team. Besides setting the school record, he wound up ranked in the top 10 in four events in the Missouri Valley Conference 200 butterfly, second; 100 butterfly, seventh; 200 backstroke, seventh; and 100 backstroke, eighth.
"I think my freshman season has turned out awesome," he said. "I did so much better than I expected, but I guess that comes from great coaching from head coach Clark Campbell and assistant coach Kim Wilson. The program is awesome here. It lived up to my expectations and much more."