Anders Hocum was content on attending University of Alaska Anchorage, which would have ended his competitive athletic career, in the fall.
Nathan James had different plans for his buddy.
With the urging and persuasiveness of James, Hocum is joining his friend on the Southwestern Oregon Community College swim team next fall.
“He had mixed ideas and wasn’t really sure,” James said. “One, he is super smart and can almost get a free education and two, he is a waste of talent if he is not swimming.”
It did take multiple talks, but in the end, Hocum, a recent graduate of Kodiak High School, shifted his plans away from UAA. He is stoked to be joining Southwestern Oregon, which is located in Coos Bay, Oregon.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Hocum said. “I hope I get better at swimming and hope that I am not maxed out where I am right now.”
Southwestern Oregon is getting one of the top breaststrokers in the history of Kodiak swimming. He placed third at the state championships as a senior and was fourth as a sophomore and junior. He finished his career with a personal-best time of 59.30 seconds, which is the second-fastest time in school history, trailing only Talon Lindquist (57.77 in 2016).
“After losing coach John Lindquist it was a different coaching style, so I had to make sure I was ready for the challenge,” said Hocum, a member of Kodiak’s 2016 state winning team. “Maggie Rocheleau ended up doing a really good job coaching all of us. She helped me get to where I was.”
Rocheleau was thrilled to discover that she will have two former swimmers competing on the same collegiate team.
“During high school, he established himself as one of the top breaststrokers in the state — and I believe he still has untapped potential,” she said. “I have no doubt he’ll be an asset to Southwestern Oregon’s team.”
Hocum was born into a hockey family. His parents play and his older brother, Aaron, spent two seasons playing for a club team in Minnesota while still attending KHS. Hocum ended his career on the ice when he entered high school so he could focus on swimming. It was a tough decision for Hocum to stop playing a sport that was the topic of conversation at the family dinning room table.
“I had a lot of people who tried to convince me to play,” he said. “I never really got back into it.”
Hocum started swimming an elementary school and has enjoyed it ever since.
“It as taught me hard work and the ability to keep working at things,” he said. “If you put your mind to something, you can do a lot of things.”
Even though Southwestern Oregon is a community college, the Lakers compete against NCAA Division I, II and III teams. Facing harder competition is something that Hocum is looking forward to. The Southwestern Oregon men, in just their fifth season in program history, placed third at the 2019 NJCAA National Championships.
Hocum, who received a $5,000 tuition waiver to attend Southwestern Oregon, is going to try to walk on to the baseball program. He has been a ballplayer longer than he has been a swimmer and was an all-state outfielder for Post 17 during the 2018 American Legion baseball season.
Hocum and James, who have been friends for nearly a decade, plan on living together in Coos Bay.
“It’s nice to have a friend there that I can be around all the time,” he said.