With his background in dance and physics, Colin Hawes understands the rhythm and science behind the moves he makes in the pool while competing for the Ohio Wesleyan men's swimming and diving program.

What might seem like an unconventional approach to some is perfectly natural for the 2016 St. Charles Preparatory School graduate, especially when factoring in his father's career.

Hawes is the son of longtime Battling Bishops coach Richard Hawes, who knows there is more to swimming than meets the eye.

"My dad always said dancers make good swimmers," said Colin, a Delaware resident and senior physics major who has been dancing since childhood. "It helped with my flexibility in my shoulders and with my strength. (Dancing) helped in a ton of ways, including understanding where your body is and how it's moving. Flexibility is super-important in the backstroke and the butterfly, so that way I don't tear my shoulders apart.

"Also, dad is a sports scientist and was a kinesiology professor (at Ohio Wesleyan) before he retired. When he discusses strokes with me, he'll use vectors and things like that that I know from physics. Physics helps my coordination in and out of the water."

Hawes, who has a 3.68 GPA, has been dancing -- and studying dance moves -- for years. He has learned how to translate the movements from the dance floor to the pool.

"I have been dancing for quite a long time, so it's normal for me to use what I have learned in the pool," he said. "I would look at the dance moves on video and I would draw up the vectors to figure out the moves.

"I primarily did ballet from the time I was 8 until I was 13 or 14. After that I started watching videos online, which got me interested in break dancing and hip hop. I used the physics from break dancing and knowing physics helped me do (the moves) without a (dance) teacher."

When his son was younger, coach Hawes thought it was better to let other coaches guide Colin in the pool. He also didn't put pressure on him when it was time to select a college.

"With Colin being my son, people think that I have coached him all of his life, but that's not the case," coach Hawes said. "We worked together to develop his strokes when he was little and then when he turned 7 or 8, I let the other coaches take over.

"I told him that if he wanted to come here that was fine, but he didn't have to do that. I think I go into (coaching with Colin on the team by) trying to treat everyone the same. It can be easy to be harder on him than everyone else, but I don't need to do that. He knows what he needs to be doing to be a good example, so I try not to be overbearing."

Colin mainly was a distance swimmer in high school, and he continues that for the Bishops. However, he discovered his passion in the fly at the collegiate level.

"Colin has really found his niche in college," coach Hawes said. "He discovered the butterfly in college and is less than two seconds off of the (program) records in the 1,000-yard freestyle (9 minutes, 55.16 seconds) and the 400 individual medley (4:09.27).

"However, he's not driven by trying to break the records but trying to beat himself, and that's a good way to go about it. Sometimes you can chase numbers but if you trust the process and try to get better and better, you can reach things more quickly. That's the way he goes about it."

This summer, Colin was doing nuclear research at Ohio Wesleyan before leaving July 15 to work with a particle accelerator at Florida State.

Perhaps the experience will give him another way to approach his performances in the pool.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen