Miles Cochrane has never competed for his high school athletic teams.
But on Thursday, Nov. 14, the South Burlington senior was the star of Wolves’ show.
Cochrane, a standout swimmer, committed to Pennsylvania State University, signing his letter of intent in the lobby of South Burlington High School.
“I am trying to take this one step at a time, so I feel like college is that next step,” Cochrane said. “Being at a big college like Penn State is part of that because big colleges have the best coaches, best resources.
“If I want to do something like make the U.S. national team then I need to be exposed to that.”
While Cochrane never suited up for the Wolves – Vermont does not offer swimming as a varsity sport – the 17-year-old has spent four years dominating on the state, regional and now national level.
“I am just really excited for him and I am really proud of the work that he has put in,” said Green Mountain Aquatics coach Nicola Anderson, who led Cochrane for six years. “I have worked with Miles since he started swimming. He has progressed a lot every year, he has made some big goals every year and one of his biggest goals was to swim D-I.”
Now, Cochrane will join the Nittany Lions, whose swimming team is currently ranking 24th in the nation.
“Penn State was great because the coaches are great, there is a lot of experience there,” Cochrane said. He also had conversations with the University of Iowa and the University of Kentucky. “It was just a gut feeling, I went on campus and watched practice and the coaching that was going on, I thought I could really see myself going there.”
Cochrane began the march to a Division I program two years ago when his times and finishes began to improve. The South Burlington senior began to see elite swimming programs as an option for him.
“I just started getting better,” Cochrane said. “I started thinking that if I want to get to that elite level maybe I should swim in college.”
Cochrane’s most recent results have him headed to Atlanta, Georgia for the U.S. Juniors National Championships Dec. 12 – Dec. 14.
“I was there for his very first New England championship and then in December he is going to be competing in his first Junior National meet,” Anderson said. “It’s been really exciting to see him progress as an athlete.”
The journey for Cochrane will continue at Penn State, where he and his coach are excited to see what four years in the program can do to help him improve.
“There are no limits,” Anderson said. “D-I is definitely going to be a challenge but I am excited to see how Miles takes that challenge.”
No matter what happens, Cochrane credits swimming with helping him find his path.
“I feel like swimming in general helped me get my life together,” Cochrane said. “I was lacking an incentive to do well. I had to work hard in practice and work hard in school.
“It helped me become the best version of myself, which to me is the best thing ever.”