Thomas “Tommy” Booth (center) with his parents, Eric and Carolyn after signing his national letter of intent to swim in college. Photo by Steve Harrison.
By JOHN ANDERSON and STEVE HARRISON
CANISTEO — For years, Thomas “Tommy” Booth watched the hard work his brother, Nathan, put in as he earned a Division I swimming scholarship at Niagara University.
As Tommy started making headlines as a freshman at Canisteo-Greenwood, not only did the Covid-19 pandemic hit the next season, it closed down indoor pools in New York.
Have water, will travel.
Booth started swimming in a pond above Crosby Creek until there was a parasite problem that he dealt with along with a few others who were training. They went to a cottage on Smith Pond, Keuka Lake, the Niagara River and any in-ground pools he could find.
On Thursday, the hard work paid off as Booth signed his national letter of intent to swim with the Division II Roberts Wesleyan College Redhawks.
Flanked by his parents, Eric and Carolyn Booth, his high school coach Frank Garrigues, C-G Athletic Director Matt Drouin and Superintendent Tom Crook, he signed the college letter.
Booth, who said the breaststroke is his best event, is very versatile. He has won meets in five different individual races and two relay teams. He is also exceptional in the backstroke.
“My parents have helped to get me into any program and any additional practiced to help me improve,” Booth said. “Coach Garrigues did everything he could to help me and supported me as well.”
Booth worked in the off-season training with Ross Munson of Wellsville, and swam for KVAC (Kanakadea Valley Aquatic Club) in Alfred and Mercury Swimming in Geneseo. He would swim three days a week and weekends, a total of eight sessions.
“It can’t just be an in-season thing, you have to work year-round to be successful,” Booth said.
Booth was also active in other activities including being part of the successful Canisteo-Greenwood football team.
Munson said Booth has dedication to swimming that is unmatched.
“I’ve worked with a lot of athletes over the years, all age groups; high school, college, Division II-level, and Tommy really stands out among the high school crowd,” Munson said. “There are a couple reasons, his drive, his dedication, and his determination to be successful in the sport is unmatched.”
Munson said it’s more than swimming when it comes to Booth.
“A lot of time you struggle to find an athlete who is all in, 100%, and will do everything you ask of them in terms of the training, the sleep, the nutrition, not getting caught up in the social aspects (that can slow down an athlete). He was really dedicated to achieving,” Munson said.
What makes Tommy’s story more impressive is, he is coming from a program that has had some ups and down in terms of talent, and in the last two years, he had to swim by himself.
“While he swam with his team, he swam my workout by himself with no one to work with him. Swimming is a hard sport as it is and to grind it out by himself is a lot to ask. But he did it. No complaints. Not once, not ever,” Munson added.
Munson said they added double sessions, so he worked out twice a day and on Saturday, a total of eight swim sessions a week by himself.
“I am so impressed by his commitment to the whole thing. Tommy is an ideal athlete when a coach thinks of an athlete. His willingness to commit to it and he is coachable. He works his hardest each time,” Munson said. “Unfortunately, he fell short of his goal to swim at states, but I know when he gets to college and he gets around a bunch of like-minded athletes he will take off because he’s been doing it so well for so many years.
“I am super-proud of what he has accomplished and looking forward to seeing what he can do in college and I would not be surprised to see him competing in nationals at college,” Munson added