Lapped: Fishers High’s Chris Cutter
Chris Cutter can joke about being accident prone. That’s only because it was just a big part of life for him for quite a while.
“I’m just a normal guy, but at one time I wasn’t all so sure. It seemed like if something could happen to me, then it probably would,” the Fishers High School senior said while toweling off after a practice session.
It all started with having seven concussions from playing football as an eighth grader and freshman. Then after sudden numbness in his legs struck, Cutter was told he had micro fractures in his lower back.
“Basically, I was swimming with a broken back,” said Cutter, who later missed a month of water time because of a hip flexer.
He finished seventh in the 500-yard freestyle as a sophomore, and had a great summer of training and competing, and just missed Junior National cuts in the backstroke events and the distance freestyle.
About midway through his junior season, Cutter started complaining of numbness in his legs. This was affecting his turns and breakouts, and subsequently, his times. Before the state meet that year, a doctor discovered that he was swimming with micro fractures in his lower back, causing nerve problems. Amazingly, he still placed seventh in the 500 and 15th in the 100 Back at State, despite the devastating news.
“After months of therapy, he is back to training hard, tough, again; we are eager to see how he performs this season,” said his coach Jay Chambers. “Chris is a tough kid, quite a competitor.”
Cutter, team captain for the Tigers who has signed a letter of intent to attend Eastern Michigan, was told by his doctor that those micro fractures were years old – probably football related. So Cutter quit football to swim because of concussion issues. “I had played lacrosse and football, but I really liked football and wanted to follow in my dad’s shoes,” said Chris. His dad, Rob Cutter, was a standout quarterback at Noblesville High School and Butler University. He posted a 132-49 record in 12 years coaching Hamilton Southeastern football. He also led the Royals to state runner-up finishes in 1997 (Class 4A) and 2007 (Class 5A). “That was tough for me, since I grew up around football. But my parents were supportive of me turning to swimming.
“It’s ironic that football actually drove me to swimming,” he added with a slight chuckle. “I had always liked swimming, and when the Fishers coach suggested I give it a try, I discovered I could handle the training, and I did pretty well. It’s a grueling sport, but it came pretty easy for me.”
Cutter missed two months of training because of the micro fractures.
“I really can’t say I’ve had any problems recently, but the biggest thing after rehab was the mental aspect of returning to the sport,” Cutter said. “Mentally, it really was hard. When I was diagnosed with a broken back, well, that was the darkest moment in my athletic career. There was the uncertainty of not knowing for sure if I’d ever be able to swim competitively again. Or if I could, would I be where I was before the injuries? And then there was the mental part. Mentally, it was tough to overcome what I’ve gone through. The biggest thing was just getting myself prepared, mentally.”
Now, Cutter says he doesn’t think about what happened. He just thinks about competing and winning. His toughness and competitiveness were at their best last year in the state meet. He had to undergo a three-way swim off in the 100 backstroke after he already had swum the 100, 500, medley relay, and 400 relay. “I knew I was back after that,” Cutter said. “That was grueling. But I kept pushing myself. That’s what’s great about swimming – you can push yourself. I mean it’s like no other sport I’ve been involved in.”
Cutter, whose 100 backstroke time of 52.16 ranks 6th best in the state, thinks he can do better in what he says is his best event, even though his 500 free time of 4:38.45 was third best in the state last year. “I can get my time under 50….that’s what it’ll take,” he said.
“Can you win state this year?” he was asked. “Absolutely. That’s a goal, of course, and I think I’m capable,” he said. “But I don’t set placing goals as much as I do improvement goals. My main thinking is that I want to beat the guys next to me. If I do, then I’ll like the outcome. I’ve overcome a lot of adversity, and I want to finish on a high note.”
Cutter is pretty busy and successful out of the pool, too. He’s a member of the National Honor Society; a Student Athletic Council representative; and is involved with Best Buddies, a national organization that focuses on enhancing the lives of those with intellectual disabilities by pairing them in one-on-one relationships. “I’m in our school’s Best Buddies chapter but am not paired with anyone this year. My buddy graduated two years ago,” Chris said.
He’s also been the junior, senior, and at-large rep for the Indiana Swimming Board of Directors. And he just recently was named to the USA Swimming Age Group Development Committee.
It would appear that a lot of good things are within reach for Chris Cutter – state, college, and life in general. Mentally, he seems ready, and he’s certainly got a good perspective. And, of course, he’ll continue to push himself to be the best he can be.