Will Modglin: Meet America’s No. 1 Ranked College Swimming Recruit
Zionsville Community High School junior Will Modglin was recently ranked in an article published by SWIMSWAM.com as its No. 1 “On Our Way Too Early” list of top 20 recruits from the high school class of 2023. Modglin is the only sub-44 100 freestyler and currently owns the top 100 back and 200 IM times and was named to the 2021–22 U.S. National Junior Team. Modglin recently committed to swim for and attend the University of Texas in 2023–24.
For these reasons, we are proud to feature Modglin on our November cover and are pleased to share with our readers his aquatic story, as told by Modglin and his parents, Chris and Michele.
Born to Be a Champion Swimmer
It became apparent to Modglin’s parents that he was born to swim almost immediately upon his birth. The youngest of three swimming boys, and son of parents who also swam, Modglin was practically raised in and around a pool.
Chris and Michele met at the IU Natatorium during lifeguard drills in 1989. Both coached summer swim teams at Highland Golf & Country Club and loved coaching.
“We spent the summers at Highland. When our oldest, Sanders, was on the [summer] team, we would watch him swim and spend all day at the pool,” Michele shared. “Summer swimming is just fun, and it was fun for the boys and was a way we could all be together as a family.”
Chris added, “There’s a lot of history with the Highland swim team. It’s really where it all began for all three of our boys. They all started at age 4 on that swim team.”
The Modglins shared that once a very young Will Modglin had to be bribed with a Hershey candy bar to get into the pool at first.
Michele added, “It may have happened one other time, but then Will was good to go from there. At 2 ½, he had his tonsils and adenoids taken out, and I remember the ENT specialist said, ‘I’ve never seen a 2 ½ year old cut the way he’s cut!’”
“He was born with a small waist and wide shoulders,” Chris said. “He had been born literally one minute and the OBGYN exclaimed, ‘Look at the abs on this kid!’”
Michele added, “Chris, you called it then—you looked at [Will] and said, ‘A 200 backstroker!’”
Developing a Natural Talent and Passion for Swimming
According to Modglin’s parents, he joined the Zionsville Swim Club (ZSC) at age 7. This feeder club is renowned for developing quality athletes, and the Modglins attribute the coaching, his teammates and the experiences at ZSC as part of Modglin’s success as a student-athlete. They share the same sentiments on the ZCHS boys swim team and coaches as well.
“Will did not get here alone,” Chris emphasized. “Will’s teammates push him as well as sometimes pull him. They have all lifted each other to the points that they are at and will continue to do so. We love all those boys—they are all our swimming sons.”
When asked at what point in his early youth did Modglin realize his passion for swimming, he replied, “I would say it was when I was going into high school. Up until then, I was also playing rec soccer. I knew that if I wanted to achieve my [swimming] goals, I’d have to be all in on one sport.”
Modglin added, “The coaches that I had when I was younger were some of the best coaches that I’ve had. And I think having my brothers [Coleman and Sanders] involved in swimming too helped me connect with the coaches. Being able to practice with Coleman was very helpful in bringing me in [to the program] and with making me feel like I belonged.”
As Modglin continued to develop his skills in the pool, he has continued to develop his discipline out of the water as well.
“This kid [Will] has his goal times posted above his bed,” Michele shared. “When he’s got free time, he watches videos of either himself or the best-of-the-best swimmers. He’s a student of the sport.”
Experiencing the Olympic Trials
As a 16-year-old, Modglin nearly swam fast enough to qualify for the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships. He swam the 100 back, 100 fly and 200 IM at the Olympic Trials Wave II this summer.
“This meet was one of the most stressful meets I’ve ever been at by far,” Modglin admitted. “Being in Wave II and having two different waves was different for me, and usually at these big meets, I know someone on my team. And not having my brother [Coleman] there was hard. It was weird in that sense, and I felt kind of alone.”
Modglin continued, “I knew that I was going to use this as a learning experience. I had some goals that were not really met at that meet, but it was a great learning curve and I have that experience now for the 2024 [Olympic] trials, which will be so helpful. I ended up missing [that opportunity], and it was hard to miss it, but it was just one of those things where it wasn’t my time—yet.”
Onward and Upward
While his focus is on finishing his high school career at ZCHS, Modglin is excited for his future, which is off to an excellent start. He has verbally committed to the University of Texas, which has a robust swimming program.
When asked why he decided to commit to the Longhorns, Modglin replied, “There are many factors that went into that decision. When I visited [the campus], I realized why they are THAT good, and it was one of those things where I felt at home with the team. I bonded with everybody super well. I’ve raced against many of these people and have known a couple of them since I was 13–14. I feel like I can achieve my goals in and out of the water there.”
And when questioned about his immediate goals until his high school graduation, Modglin stated, “My goals—out of the water—are to get good grades and graduate.”
And with that, Modglin’s parents smiled and concurred.
USA Swimming Scholastic All-American Stats
-Won both the 200 IM (1:45.14) and 100 back (46.60) last year as a ZCHS sophomore at the 2021 Indiana High School Boys Swimming and Diving Championships.
-Led off the runner-up 200 medley relay (21.44, the fastest backstroke by over half a second) and contributed a leg (43.59) to the runner-up 400 free relay.