Shashank Chandru started swimming when he was still in diapers.
“My mom took me to Mommy and Me swim lessons where I just splashed around when I was just 3 months old,” says Chandru who now splashes around for the extremely talented Pioneer boys’ swimming and diving team.
Of course, Chandru didn’t start swimming against the clock until much later. He was a part of Club Wolverine from ages 11-15, and then moved to Saline Swim Team from ages 15-17.
“I really started to take the sport seriously at around 11 years old, when I joined Club Wolverine,” he said. “I liked that I could see the results of my work quite clearly, especially at that young age where I could drop a lot of time.”
Chandru, who has been dropping time ever since, is now a senior captain for the Pioneers. He says he had some good role models when it came to leadership and Pioneer swimming.
“When I initially joined Pioneer swimming, it was kind of crazy because all the upperclassmen were so fast and I didn’t know how I’d ever get there,” he said. “But the captains then were all so good about making sure that everyone felt like they were part of the team, and I want to make sure I do that this year.”
In his freshman year, Chandru qualified in both the fly and 50 free for the B finals at SECs. As a sophomore, he continued to drop times. He dropped another second in his 100 fly going 55 seconds and went half a second faster in his 50 free (going a low 23 seconds).
“My junior year is where I finally hit a breakthrough,” Chandru said. “I dropped 2 and a half seconds at SECs in the 100 fly and finally qualified for States.”
He also was a part of an All-American 200 free relay at the State Finals where the Pioneers placed fifth (along with BU swimmer Adam Orringer-Hau, co-captain Trent Hitchins and current sophomore Matthew Segal). He also was a part of a seventh-place 400 free relay at States with Henry Cramer, Segal and Orringer-Hau.
“I swam the 50 free and 100 fly individually every year at SECs, and plan to continue to do so this year,” he says. “My 100 fly state cut is already achieved, and I can’t wait to see what more I can accomplish this year.”
As a team, the Pioneers are undefeated and considered one of the favorites to win the Division 1 State Finals if they remain on their current course.
“As a team we’ve established that we want to go undefeated in dual-meets, win SECs, and get top three at States,” Chandru says. “Our dual-meet season has been quite successful, but we are still determined to accomplish the rest of our goals, as we cannot take anything for granted. It’s not done until it’s done.”
Personally, Chandru wants to get his cut in the 50 free and go top eight individually at States and win a couple relays at States.
“We want to break the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay varsity records this year,” he said. “I think that it’s feasible, and I’m excited to really go for it at SECs and States.”
Pioneer has been hugely successful for years – decades – in swimming. Chandru says it’s all about the team culture.
“This team loves to have fun, but don’t get me wrong, when it’s time to get serious they do,” he said. “Another reason why we’re successful is that we take things one at a time, and perform our best regardless of who the meet is against because that’s the attitude we’ll need if we want to be serious contenders at States.
“We are a primarily underclassmen dominated team, with a crazy amount of talented freshmen and sophomores. This year’s team, especially the underclassmen, have the speed necessary to make this team amazing for the next several years.”
Pioneer already has defeated heavyweights Skyline, Saline and Brother Rice.
Being a team captain is an important role for Chandru.
“As a captain this year, it’s my job to make sure to lead the very talented freshman and sophomore classes so that they get what’s best for them,” he said. “I also want the entire team this year to feel like we’ve done everything we could, so that I and the rest of the team, don’t have any regrets about this season.”
Shashank, the son of Subramanian Chandru and Gayathri Chandru, also is in Symphony Band, Robotics and Creator of Tomorrow Together (a club about teaching elementary schoolers to not bully). He plans on studying computer engineering after high school.
He hopes to help engineer a state title before he heads off to college.