Hasty Awards Team of the Month: Fishers Area Swimming Tigers (FAST)

by Riley Overend 0

November 11th, 2023 Club, News, Team of the Month

When Joe Keller took over as head coach of the Fishers Area Swimming Tigers (FAST) in 2017, the club didn’t have any Junior National qualifiers. Fast forward six years later, and FAST sent JoJo Ramey and Luke Whitlock to the World Junior Championships this summer — the only club in the country to put both a girl and a boy on the U.S. roster.

Keller has transformed FAST into a Silver Medal Club ranked 23rd in the nation, up from 34th last year and right on the cusp of Gold Medal status afforded to the top 20. A relatively small club with only about 215 competitive swimmers, FAST has to compete against powerhouses such as Carmel Swim Club (with double or triple that number) located just about 20 minutes away.

“We’ve been able to provide a lot of our attention with some of our group sizes that have really helped our athletes achieve at a high level because of the amount of coaching they receive,” said Keller, who was inducted into the Indiana High School Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame earlier this year. “And still we’re big enough where we can create a competitive environment in practice, too.”

Keller’s first Junior Nationals qualifier, current Notre Dame junior Madelyn Christman, left FAST for Carmel after getting her first cut. But since then, Keller has been able to keep top talent at FAST and help them flourish.

“Our kids work hard,” Keller said. “We challenge our athletes, and that’s done in a healthy way to help their progression and their ability to continue to grow. That starts with how we design our program from the bottom up. In an ideal world, we look at taking children from our swim lesson program into our pre-team and then our competitive team.”

Ramey was a homegrown product who enjoyed a huge summer, placing 8th in the 200 back at the U.S. National Championships (2:10.58) before winning a silver medal in the event at the World Junior Championships in Netanya, Israel. Whitlock placed 15th in the 400 free (3:53.90) and 9th in the 800 free (8:00.79) at U.S. Nationals before tallying 5th-place finishes in both the 400 free (3:50.46) and 800 free (7:55.00) at World Juniors. He also represented Team USA at the LEN Open Water Cup in Barcelona in September after placing 2nd in the 7.5k at Open Water Nationals.

Ramey is now in the midst of her first NCAA campaign as a freshman at the University of Florida under head coach Anthony Nesty. Whitlock, the top 1650 freestyler in the high school class of 2024, recently switched his commitment from Louisville to Florida for the 2024-25 season. Another up-and-coming swimmer at FAST, Julie Mishler, just got her Olympic Trials cut in the 50 free and committed to Louisville last month.

“A lot of people think we’re like a distance program, but I don’t necessarily define us that way,” Keller said. “I think our preparation is more toward 400 IM than anything else. When you prepare that way, then obviously you get results of kids who can swim a 200 back. It’s just like with Luke (Whitlock), he was really a distance freestyler, but he ended up swimming a 400 IM at Summer Juniors. That’s our wheelhouse and how we design all our training. While we prep in that way and train in that way, we try to be creative and design our programming based on the athletes that we have. Having a good staff helps with that because you manage a lot of things at one time.”

Keller also coaches the Fishers High School swim team, which has earned four runner-up finishes in a row on the girls side at the IHSAA State Championships behind 37-time defending champion Carmel.

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About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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