After a couple years away in Florida, Adam Dear was ready to come home.
The Waccamaw High School swimming team welcomed him back with open arms.
Dear returned to Waccamaw with a bang this year after a two-year stint at Pine Crest School, a college preparatory school well-known for both academics and swimming. The senior won a pair of individual state championships and participated on a pair of relay teams that reached the podium en route to being named the Toast of the Coast Boys Swimmer of the Year for the second time in his career.
Dear earned the same award as a freshman before spending his sophomore and junior years in Florida. However, Dear’s desire to be home brought him back to Pawleys Island.
“He was homesick,” his father David Dear, also the Waccamaw swim coach, said. “He wanted to be with his friends and family.”
Adam Dear returned an even better swimmer. The two individual state titles – in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley – were the first of his career. He also helped the 200 freestyle relay team to a runner-up finish and the 400 freestyle relay to a third-place finish.
“He gained a lot of experience from [being at Pine Crest],” David Dear said. “It opened his eyes to what it takes to compete at a high level. I think he was harder on himself. I think he really had a better work ethic [when he came back].
“He had more of a focus on technique, more ability to really listen and make those adjustments himself without being coached from the outside. He’s got a lot of good solid understanding of the strokes and he pushed himself very hard.”
In fact, the grueling nature of swimming is what led to Dear’s desire to take a serious approach to the sport. Dear started swimming at age 4 and said he began to look at it as more than a hobby when he was 12 or 13.
“You can’t do it just half the year; you have to do it all the time,” said Dear, who swims year-round and often practices more than once a day. “It’s something that requires a lot of practice.”
And practice he did.
Now, Dear finds himself heading to East Carolina on a swimming scholarship.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “Right now I’m just happy to be going there.”
Dear also helped the Warriors to a fourth-place showing at the state meet and believes there’s plenty of potential left in the program.
“It was definitely our best season we ever had,” he said. “There’s probably more state titles to come from that team.”
But in 2012 it all started with the return of Dear, who will always find a home in the pool, no matter where it is located.
“When he’s in the water he talks about everything else going away when he’s in the races,” David Dear said. “I think his competitiveness came out in the water. I think that’s what really drives him.”