RBR’s Theo Rennard Wins Big at Monmouth County Swim Championships, But is Not Finished Yet
By Robert Solomon
LITTLE SILVER – As a member of a swim team, a person has to be versatile. There are numerous events involving different skills and strokes. The swimmers must also be able to mentally focus on competing as an individual and as a member of a relay. Only accomplished swimmers are able to mix the necessary skills and mental toughness to excel. Red Bank Regional swimmer Theo Rennard is one of those special swimmers.
Rennard is a junior who has been swimming competitively for nine years. According to RBR varsity swim coach Jennamarie DeVito, one of Rennard’s strengths is his distance swimming. “He is a good long distance swimmer. His best events are the 200 and 500 freestyle,” said DeVito.
“I have a lot of endurance. I also have a lot of willpower and want to see myself succeed,” said Rennard. “My best event is the 500 free.”
DeVito emphasizes the point. “He holds the school record for the 500 freestyle which is the longest distance swim event in high school competition,” she said. She mentioned that Rennard also competes individually in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly.
“Theo is a self-motivated, hardworking, humble student-athlete,” said DeVito. Rennard is the type of athlete who is always looking to be better. “He is open to constructive criticism because he is always looking to improve and ‘raise the bar.’”
Rennard also sees himself as a hardworking swimmer. “I know I put all my effort into my swimming practices and I think it pays off,” he said.
Every athlete has weakness, and Rennard is no different. “I tend to get into my head and overthink my races, especially in the big meets,” he explained.
DeVito spoke highly of him as a great team member. “He works so hard and has a great team attitude,” she said. “He always wants to perform his best for our team.”
“I am a supportive teammate. I am always cheering for everyone else and am team oriented,” Rennard stated.
DeVito said that Rennard is usually the anchor swimmer in all RBR relays. “It (being anchor) is a lot of stress especially in close relays but I like it,” Rennard explained.
Rennard is an exciting swimmer to watch. “He has a way of electrifying the crowd when he dives while anchoring a relay,” said DeVito. “Theo is known for never giving up in a race and being the RBR anchor swimmer in all relays. There have been numerous races where Theo dives in last and closes the gap to out-touch his opponent,” she added.
Not only is Rennard a superior swimmer, but he is also a good student. “He is a very hard worker and conscientious about his schoolwork. He is always accountable for his academics,” DeVito said.
Rennard’s hard work is one factor for his success, but there are others, according to DeVito. “Aside from working hard, he has great mental toughness. Often he will be racing against himself and the clock,” she said.
Besides the school’s individual meets there are several major meets where RBR swimmers also compete. One of these meets is the Monmouth County Swim Championships which was held on Jan. 4. The others include the Shore Conference Championships and the State Championships.
Rennard was selected as the boys MVP of the Monmouth County Swim Championships, which he feels is his biggest success so far this season. “It felt great (to win the MVP). I’ve been competing against my brother (Sammy) for the past two seasons, but this year I was able to win. It felt very satisfying,” Rennard stated.
He excelled in his strongest event, the 500 free and won his race by an amazing 18 seconds. “Theo is a very mentally tough athlete. Even when he is not in a close battle with another competitor in his heat, he is able to push himself and race against the clock.” DeVito said. Rennard also won the 200 free with a time three seconds better than the second-place finisher.
“He gets really excited for the big meets. He welcomes the competition.” said DeVito.
Rennard explained, “I definitely do (get excited). It is a different atmosphere. In the big meets there are a lot of teams and it is a different level of competition.”
“Theo is looking forward to race at Shore Conference and then in the state tournament,” DeVito said. Rennard added that he is striving to get All-Shore. He also wants to win all his events and drop his times at Shore Conference.
“I’m also hoping to do well in the state finals,” he added.
Rennard is not the only swimmer in his family. His brother Sammy swam for Christian Brothers Academy until he graduated last year. Ironically, Sammy competed in the 200 and 500 free just as Theo does.
“I liked it (competing in the same events). The last few years it gave me a different level of motivation. It gave me the goal of beating my brother,” he said.
“Yes for sure we motivated each other,” Rennard continued. “Sammy was faster because he was two years older. People brought up that he didn’t want to get beat by his younger brother. It motivated me to want to beat my older brother.”
The brothers only competed against each other in two meets per season. Those meets were the Monmouth County Championships and the Shore Conference Championships. “Other than these two meets they are completely separate throughout the high school season,” explained DeVito.
“I think they both welcomed the competition because they knew they would push each other.” DeVito added. “Theo always knew that he is going to have a great race against Sammy. He geared up for it.”
Some wonder if removing the sibling competition would affect Rennard’s motivation. He explained, “Yes, but I have changed in a good way. Without the goal (of beating my brother), I have become a better swimmer. I had to learn how to pace myself without anyone else to push me. I still want to be the best. I have not lost any motivation.”
DeVito confirmed that sentiment, “Theo’s motivation is to race his best every race.”
Rennard has been speaking to several colleges including Florida State, Michigan and UNC at Chapel Hill, but his goal as of now is the University of Florida. As he continues to improve his skill set, he should meet any goal he sets for himself.