In well-traveled life Lester, has always had the pool


POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

Andrew Lester can't help but to scoff at the notion that going from Hawaii to North Carolina is a tough transition.

The 2005 Moanalua graduate took his swimming skills that won him two state championships as a senior to NC State for college. The move would be a challenging one for most Hawaii kids, but for Lester, it was all in a days work.

“;We moved around a little growing up,”; Lester said.

“;A little”; is quite the understatement.

How about two 3-year stints in Germany, four years in Mississippi, two years in Korea, Maryland for at least a year, Texas and then Hawaii for two years.

“;Okay, we moved around a lot,”; Lester said.

I guess that'll do.

As it tends to go as the son of an army man, Lester's childhood bounced from one base to the next. A new set of friends would quickly go by the wayside, and in their place a new group of people to hang out with.

Just as Lester would begin feeling comfortable with them, dad's on his way to another country, and the cycle repeats itself.

Some kids would have a hard time with that, but Lester looks at the bright side of it.

“;It was really cool because I did get to see a whole lot of different places and it made me a lot closer to my family than maybe most people would get,”; Lester said. “;Every three years I'd have a new set of friends, but no matter what, I always had my family.”;

The scenery never stayed the same, but the one constant in Lester's life was swimming. Wherever his father's job would take them next, the first thing dad would do is look for the nearest pool. Sometimes he was fortunate enough that there would be a club team.

Other times, it was Lester's competitive spirit, chasing his older sister Jerri back and forth in the pool, that got him into the sport.

“;When I was really young I used to get really competitive with her,”; Lester said. “;We'd always end up going to the pool anyway, so why not?”;

Never did he think it would take him past high school, but the club coach he found in Hawaii had an old college roommate who was an assistant coach at NC State. That opened the door for Lester to step right in, and he immediately took advantage.

He swam nine different events as a freshman, and had the best times in the 400 individual medley and the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle events. He swam the 500 free in 4:28.01, the seventh fastest in school history, and finished first or second in every dual meet in all three freestyle events.

“;I've just always been a little better at distance events,”; Lester said. “;It kind of goes with how I train and that I don't get as tired as quickly as some of the other people.”;

By his sophomore season, Lester was a top-15 finisher in the Atlantic Coast Conference championships in all three of his events, the 500 and 1,650 free and 400 IM.

As a junior, he made the NCAA honor roll with 18 different top-three finishes in a season.

But there's still one goal Lester has yet to accomplish.

He was on the brink of qualifying for the NCAA championships last year, making the B-cut before he was passed over on the final round of times to advance to the NCAAs.

This year, his hopes to make it took a hit when the NCAA brought down the qualifying times by 5 seconds, but Lester is still doing his best to make sure he peaks at the end of the season to give him the best shot to advance to the final meet of the season.

“;It's hard to judge this year because you always do better at the end of the year because that's when you rest for the big meet,”; Lester said.

“;I can just hope that I can get there.”;