The alarm clock sounds between 4 and 4:30 in the morning at the Lundry house.

Getting out of bed and tackling a 5:30 a.m. swim workout or lifting session would be considered an unpleasant task for most.

Sam Lundry, though, has an unusual mental makeup for a high school senior.

"It definitely is hard work, but I've learned to enjoy the grind a little bit better the last couple of years," the Pleasant Valley swimmer said. "As school has gotten busier, it has been nice to swim in the morning.

"It wakes you up for the day."

This semester, in particular, has been hectic for Lundry.

Besides the grueling swim practices, he is taking five classes for dual high school and college credit at Scott Community College — Western Civilization, Calculus I, Humanities, Psychology and Sociology — along with an advanced placement language and composition course and an honors journalism class.

Lundry said he spends at least 20 to 25 hours a week outside of class time studying with that course load. That number has escalated with finals week.

It has been a juggling act with classes, swimming and a part-time job at Healthy Habits, a bicycle store in Bettendorf. Earlier this fall, he took first place in an Iowa High School Press Association news writing contest in Iowa City.

As a result, there have been times it is past midnight before his head hits the pillow.

And he repeats it the next day.

"I enjoy all of it," Lundry said. "I enjoy coming here to swim every day, and I love my classes. It is nice senior year because you get a little more freedom to choose what classes you take."

Close to a 4.0 student, Lundry is an instrumental piece to the Spartans' early-season swim success.

Lundry ranks among the top 10 in the state in the 500 freestyle (4 minutes, 55.24 seconds) and among the fastest 12 in the 200 free (1:49.20). He accounted for three wins during last Saturday's Marcussen Invitational title in Cedar Falls.

"He's a 35-year-old trapped into a 17-year-old body," PV boys swim coach Stacey Zapolski said. "Sam is a wonderful leader in many ways, but his work ethic is really evident every single day."

Distance swimming means a slew of yardage in training.

During club season, Lundry swims the 500, 1,000 and mile (a little more than 1,600 yards). The average workout is between 7,000 and 8,000 yards a day, but Lundry said the longest session he's done is 12,600 yards.

"I enjoy the challenge of it," Lundry said. "You spend a lot of time alone staring at a black line at the bottom of the pool with not a lot of rest.

"Swimming, more than any other sport, teaches you how to push yourself passed what you think your body can handle. Sometimes in those really long workouts, you get absolutely exhausted and think you can't move your arms anymore, but it's taught me your mind is greater than your body."

The long sets give him ample time for self-reflection.

"Your mind just kind of wanders," he said, "but during the really hard sets you are thinking about what you want to accomplish and pushing yourself."

Lundry is a first-generation swimmer in his family. His younger sister, Carly, was a freshman on the PV girls squad this fall.

Through swim lessons, Lundry became involved in the sport. He joined the PV Stingrays (now the Piranhas Club) at age 7.

By 11 or 12, Lundry specialized in swimming.

He's continually improved. After narrowly missing the state meet as a freshman, Lundry was 17th in the 500 free as a sophomore (4:57.12) and seventh (4:46.93) last year.

Lundry was just one placing from the podium and about 3 1/2 seconds off Jack Stecker's school record.

Zapolski shoulders some of the responsibility for him not getting that mark.

"Personally, I feel terrible as his coach because that taper didn't quite work exactly like we thought it would," Zapolski said. "I'd love to see him get that before the end of the season so that's like a monkey off his back."

Lundry has concentrated recently on improving his back-end speed. He swam a personal best of 1:48 in the 200 free earlier this fall at a club meet.

The 500 is his specialty. His second individual event come February likely will be either the 200 free or 200 IM depending on where PV needs him the most. He'll also factor into a relay or two.

"He's the ultimate team leader in the water," Zapolski said. "There isn't one set, no matter what it is, that he is not pulling the team and guys along with him whatever pace he sets."

Lundry has not finalized his college plans.

The Monday after this year's state meet in Marshalltown, Lundry will move to Des Moines and serve as a page in the state legislature.

In the meantime, there are records he wants to chase and championships he aspires to win with PV. The Spartans have 33 swimmers on their roster and are ranked No. 1 in the latest state power rankings.

"This year is kind of our year," Lundry said. "We've got a lot of seniors that are going to be graduating. Hopefully, we can instill some work ethic in some of those younger kids."

Lundry has set the bar extremely high for the underclassmen.

"It has been incredible to have that leadership and work ethic," Zapolski said, "but it will be hard to replace."


Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.