PORTLAND – Seeing Trebor Lawton on the deck at the Class A state championship meet last season, Cheverus Coach Kevin Haley knew something was amiss.

Lawton wore street clothes, having opted to concentrate on club swimming, and longed for the camaraderie and companionship of high school competition.

A junior, Lawton returned to the Stags this winter, when a smile rarely left his face.

“He had a blast,” Haley said. “He knew he made a great choice to come back.”

Coming back is something Lawton rarely had to do in individual races this season. He was named performer of the meet at both the North Southwesterns — where he posted the winter’s fastest time in the 100-yard butterfly (52.15 seconds, a meet record) — and the Class A state championships, where he won the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke and led off the winning 200 medley relay.

His times ranked among the state’s top three in four events, along with the fifth-best time in the 50 free and 13th-best in the 100 free.

He is our Maine Sunday Telegram boys’ swimmer of the year.

“He’s just an all-around talented (swimmer) who can do anything for the team,” Haley said.

Haley said Lawton leads by example and never climbs from the pool until every competitor has reached the wall.

“You can even see him clapping in the pool at the end of his lane, waiting for everybody to finish,” Haley said. “He makes sure he shakes everybody’s hand.”

At practices, Lawton passes along drills and techniques to teammates with less experience.

“I can go to him with anything and have him show the newer kids,” Haley said. “He is all about helping the next generation that is coming in.”

Oh, and about that name? It’s his father’s spelled backwards.

“It’s a pretty unusual name,” said Lawton, who lives in Gorham. “I guess I’ve accepted it.”

At 4, Lawton tagged along with his sister Sophie, now a freshman at Mt. Holyoke, when she started swimming lessons. He took to the water immediately and has been immersed in it ever since.

“When I was younger, I tried a bunch of other sports, just trying out everything,” he said. “I decided that swimming was the one I really liked. I’m not even really sure (why). I just can’t imagine myself stopping.”

Lawton continues to swim with Coastal Maine Aquatics and will compete next weekend in a sectional meet in Ohio. His down time comes in August, when he returns to a family camp in Skowhegan and grows squash (butternut and buttercup). He plants it in May and sells it in autumn.

When he was home-schooled in junior high, his mother had him draw up a business plan. His initial idea was to grow pumpkins, but they required too much attention.

“I’ve tried to grow corn, too,” he said. “But that hasn’t really worked out.”

The swimming, though? That seems to be working quite well.

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

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH