Plenty of mornings, too many to count, Noah Beene would rather just stay in bed. When the clock reads 4 a.m. and sometimes he’s working on four hours of sleep after studying the night before until midnight, it’s a chore to get up.

But Beene doesn’t push the snooze button. He dutifully drags himself out of bed, for the pool awaits.

And as it turns out, the early fish gets to state.

Beene, a junior at Reicher, will represent the school at the TAPPS State Swimming Championships beginning Friday in San Antonio. A one-man swim team, Beene is hoping to become the first Reicher athlete not only to qualify for the state meet but to bring home a gold medal, too.

Even though Beene doesn’t have any teammates or a swim coach at Reicher, he is not without his supporters. Basically everyone he passes in the hallway seems to be president of the “Noah Beene Fan Club.”

“When I qualified, it was great, because no one at my school has ever been able to say that they’ve done that before,” Beene said. “It’s been a while since my school has gone to anything at state. … All the teachers at the school are encouraging me and all the students are happy for me. They’re always coming up and wishing me good luck at the meets.”

Beene spent his early childhood years in Ohio before his family moved to Waco near the end of his seventh grade year. He attended Midway Middle School for two years before shifting to Reicher for high school.

Beene tried every sport he could find while in Ohio. But he always returned to the water, where he felt at home.

“I started when I was about six months with those little kiddie, mom-and-son type swim lessons,” Beene said. “I just progressed farther and farther. My last swim teacher, her name was Sue, she said, ‘He’s a really good backstroker. You should have him join the local team.’ ”

So Beene began swimming competitively when he was 7 years iold. That continued after he moved to Central Texas, as he hooked up with the prolific Heart of Texas Aquatics Team.

Beene hadn’t really considered swimming in high school meets because Reicher didn’t field a team. Yet he dreamed of earning a swimming scholarship.

During a college visit, a coach told him that he might explore the idea of competing in some TAPPS meets.

“He was looking at my times,” Beene said, “and he said, ‘These are really good times to get into college swimming, but something you might want to look for is to get with a high school swim team and try to get to state, get those state awards.’

“We were like, ‘That’s a really good idea.’ ”

Beene spole with Reicher Athletic Director Mark Waggoner earlier this school year and before long he was representing the Cougars at high school meets.

Two weeks ago at the TAPPS regional meet in Mansfield, he finished first in his division in the 200-yard freestyle and first among all TAPPS divisions in the 500-yard freestyle.

Beene’s day begins at 4 a.m. That’s when he awakens and has breakfast. He then crawls back into bed for a little more sleep before arising for good at 4:55 a.m.. He brushes his teeth, packs a bag and goes to the Waco Family Y, so he can hit the water by 5:30 a.m.

His morning workouts generally last 90 minutes, which gives him just enough time to shower and change before heading to school for his first-period class at 7:50 a.m.

He also has afternoon workouts five days a week after school with his HEAT club team. It’s an exhausting whirlwind, Beene admits.

“There’s definitely days like that, especially those days when I have four or five hours of homework and I’m up at a quarter till 12,” Beene said. “I wake up and sometimes go, ‘I really don’t want to do this.’ ”

But once he is in the water, his motivation is refreshed. He prefers the longer endurance races to the sprints. He gets a kick out of the dramatic turns such races can take.

Beene’s goal in San Antonio is to achieve a USA qualifying standard for his age group in the 500 free. Naturally, it would be pretty cool to come back to Waco with a state championship, too.

“How would that feel? It would feel amazing, because I’d be the first person at the school to do that,” Beene said. “I’d set records.

“But then the community at Reicher is so tight that people will know even before I get back to school on Monday morning. . . .That would be a great experience.”

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