By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/3/09
When Radnor’s Robbie Norton finished his swimming season several weeks ago, he had just enough time to toss his trunks in the dryer, hang up his goggles and grab his lacrosse stick and pads to get ready for the first game of the spring campaign.
Such is the life of a two-sport standout that is also headed to an Ivy League school. But Norton, who spends his “free” time coaching youth basketball, swimming and lacrosse while feeding the homeless for his church, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s really tough, but actually toward the end of the swim season it gets a littler easier,” said Norton, the Laxzilla Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week. “The practices are shorter because you’re resting your muscles to get them ready for the (championship) meets.
“In the winter, from December to January, that’s when the swim practices are the longest. I put in 8,000- 10,000 yards a day in the pool and then I go back home and throw the ball against the wall for 30 minutes before it gets dark. Then I go eat and do my homework for a couple of hours.”
Norton finds enough time to do his studies, quite well in fact. He carries a GPA of over 3.5 while taking AP courses in U.S. Government and Economics. He also takes advanced Calculus and Honors Accounting and has been on the Honor Roll the past two years.
Norton also is as involved in youth sports and community service as most who don’t take on nearly the athletic and academic demands. Norton coaches under his father in the Radnor Hooper-Gill League youth lacrosse and also has coached two Radnor rec league teams to 9th grade championships. He also helps coach Radnor rec swimming mini meets and even helped feed the homeless in Philadelphia during a special project with his church last year.
Norton will attend Brown University where he will swim. And yes, he is quite a swimmer.
This winter Norton set four school records and placed sixth in the butterfly in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) state championships. He led Radnor to the Central League championship and helped the Red Raiders reach states in the 200 medley relay.
Today, Norton was honored by the Delaware County Daily Times as the Boys’ Swimmer of the Year for the second straight season.
“I really like the competitiveness of swimming because I would consider myself a pretty competitive guy,” he said. “In this sport, it’s all on me. I like to put pressure on myself, and I like knowing I have total control of the race.
“My coach (Tom Robinson) considers myself one of the better relay swimmers at Radnor because I don’t let the guy next to me beat me in a race. I don’t like to let my team down.”
Norton proved that he cares about his teammates – that is, his lacrosse teammates – by jumping right from the pool to the lax field immediately after competing in the PIAA meet.
“I had one practice before our first scrimmage,” he said. “I was real rusty.
“It’s just different getting out of the pool. You don’t have your land legs for the first week, at least. I had to go home every day and ice my legs. In our first game I couldn’t do anything. I was so dead from running around, trying to keep up with everybody.”
Norton is actually a pretty good midfielder and could probably play Division I lacrosse. For now, he’s happy to be a key contributor to a team that is ranked in the Top 10 in the PA Media Rankings and is undefeated in the Central League.
“Lacrosse has always been my favorite sport because all my friends played it,” Norton said. “Ninety percent of my friends are on the lacrosse team right now. It’s very enjoyable. It was only last year and the beginning of this year that I started helping out with scoring goals. It’s a great feeling to help the team win.”
Still, Norton is happy that he will continue swimming at Brown, where he plans to study economics.
“I really like the coach,” Norton said of Brown’s head coach, Peter Brown. “He came to me and was really interested in not only my times, but how I practiced and the parts of the race that matter the most.
“I met all the coaches and guys when I took my official (visit). It seemed like a family. One thing that was very inviting is the fact they sent a bunch of guys to the Olympic trials last year. That is every swimmer’s dream, and that pretty much sold it to me.”
Norton also likes to pass on his passion for swimming to younger swimmers in the Radnor Aquatic League. He relishes helping those who compete in the mini meets because they may not be the stars, but are youngsters who enjoy the fun of competition, just like Norton.
“The big thing with swimming is that a lot of kids don’t enjoy swimming practice,” he said. “The practices are grueling and I especially see kids drop out of swimming in middle school because they don’t think swimming is a cool sport.
“I just want to help to make them have fun and do something they like.”