Some kids learn swimming as an activity, a sport of leisure to frolic in the pool, lake or ocean.

Marcus Cloutier isn’t one of those kids.

Growing up in Australia, Cloutier’s mom was a competitive swimmer. Naturally, her son joined a team and started racing.

He was 4.

“I knew all the strokes at 5,” said Cloutier, a Cape Elizabeth High junior. “I wasn’t really good at them, but I gradually worked my way up through levels of competition and got better.”

So much better, in fact, that he was named performer of the state meet in Class A after winning both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 freestyle as well as leading the Capers to victory in the 200 free relay and helping them finish second in the 400 free relay.

His times in those individual events — 1 minute, 59.91 seconds and 48.52 — were the fastest in Maine high school swimming this winter, regardless of class. He also ranked sixth in the 100 backstroke and 12th in the 50 free.

Not once this season did he lose an individual race.

Cloutier is our Telegram MVP for boys’ swimming.

“He’s so competitive,” said Capers Coach Ben Raymond. “You can put him on that last leg of a relay and know, if he’s anywhere close, he’s going to win. He hates to lose that much.”

Cloutier, who has dual citizenship, moved here at 5 and continued his competitive career for Coastal Maine Aquatics, a club team.

As a freshman, he chose CMA over high school swimming, but figured as a sophomore he could do both.

“I decided that all my friends do it and I’m well trained enough to either do both at the same time or do high school for a few months and go back to my club swimming,” Cloutier said. “Sometimes it’s hard, so I don’t get to all the (club) practices. But I try to train with both my teams.”

What Cloutier discovered about high school swimming was a spirit and an energy that transcended the individual.

“It was more of a team thing,” he said. “In club, they cheer for you, but it’s more an individual thing. You try to do your best time. In high school swimming, everyone’s cheering you on and it gets you more pumped and I have more fun.”

He enjoyed it so much he recruited others to join. He admits to extra motivation because in sophomore Evan Long and senior Paul Wennberg, Cape Elizabeth had two excellent sprinters to complement Cloutier. One more would round out a formidable relay.

Enter Wesley Richards, a senior with no competitive swimming experience. He and two athletic classmates came out because of the encouragement of Wennberg and Cloutier.

“He’s actually a really good teacher,” Richards said of Cloutier. “He has a special technique, which I couldn’t use but apparently it works for him.

“What helped a lot, at least before the state meet, was that he kept getting me pumped. I was really nervous and he definitely helped.”

Cloutier also played soccer last fall after two years focusing just on swimming. Raymond is trying to convince Cloutier to try lacrosse this spring.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Raymond said.

And if he is on the end of a relay, watch out.

“Whenever I see someone within my reach, that I can catch up to, I know I can’t let my teammates down,” Cloutier said. “It’s part of my nature. I love to be competitive.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com