Walner, whose older brother Grant is also a Coyote swimmer, was primarily a freestyler at Winona, winning three state titles in his senior year. He gradually chose the butterfly as his top sport as his USD career progressed. After finishing sixth in his league last season at the Summit, he had another year to work on it as COVID eligibility was extended for him for a year.
While it is common in some sports to take advantage of that extra year of entitlement, swimming is an exception. It makes some sense, though, because Walner is kind of an outlier himself.
“I think some people get pretty burned out by the third or fourth grade and want to quit,” says Wolner. “But I’ve been doing it for so long and it’s been such an integral part of my life that I wasn’t ready to give it up. When they gave it to me, I talked to my coaches and said they wanted to do another year. I was lucky.”
Next fall, Walner, a double major in medical biology and psychology, plans to become an optometrist. But he never intends to leave music behind. He can clearly see his future in that respect. That also applies to playing it and writing it.