Pictured Front: Jeremy Ayres, Zach Ayres and Robin Ayres. Back: CHS Athletic Director Mike Barren, Principal Dr. Jeffrey Fisher and Cavs Swim Head Coach Lindsay Burns. Dan Ramey/wbex.com
By Dan Ramey
Chillicothe’s most decorated swimmer is headed to swim for the Polar Bears of Ohio Northern University.
Zach Ayres, a four-time Boys 100 Butterfly SCOL Champion, plans to study Molecular Biology at ONU with hopes of becoming an Oncologist.
After trying baseball and basketball, Ayres found swimming as a 9 year old at the Ross County YMCA. He eventually joined the Marlins Swim Team. “We made a lot of three-hour trips one way for him to be in the water for a minute, ten seconds” said his father Jeremy Ayres. “But that’s swimming, for those who are in it.” Ayres slowly climbed into the top ranks of the multi-state Regional Y Meets.
While sticking through coaching changes at the Y, Ayres hit a wall. He struggled to find motivation after his times failed to show improvement at the end of his Marlins career, but then he met Pam Allen who he credits for rekindling his motivation.
Ayres recalled his first high school swim meet. “Pam was very intimidating at the time, as she always is. Love her to death… she really gave me the drive back.” Allen retired after that season and turned the reigns over to Cavalier alumnus Lindsay Burns. Ayres says Burns continued that motivation and encouragement he needed to help him gain success. “It’s shaped me into being the best swimmer I possibly could be.”
Ayres’ teams won all four SCOL Championship Meets in his career and even as a freshman, facing more mature swimmers found a way to reach the podium each season. The last two seasons as Sectional Champions at Ohio University.
Burns noted Ayres' most impressive feat was the rarity of his four consecutive league championships in the Boys 100 Meter Butterfly. “It’s very difficult and people don’t choose to swim that because it’s very difficult” said Ayres “It requires a lot of work.”
Ayres wouldn’t change his four years swimming for the Cavaliers. “We don’t have the best resources, we don’t have the best pool time, the best pool, but we have passionate coaches, we have passionate people that enjoy swimming, that enjoy coming to watch… for that I’m more than grateful.”
Ayres is the first Cavalier swimmer to earn a scholarship since Job Fields ('10) signed with Hiram.