By Nicholas Osterloo
NCC Student Sports Information Ast.
The power of brotherhood is strong with North Central College men’s swimmer Luke Gentile and his older brother Jason. Throughout Gentile’s life, he has always looked up to Jason who is 3 years older than Luke, who would be the first to admit that he would be a totally different person if it weren’t for their relationship.
Without Jason “I wouldn’t have even started swimming,” Luke explained, “[he was] one of the main reasons I joined swimming because he was on it.” This relationship between brothers is still prevalent today as his brother attends most of Gentile’s swim meets.
Gentile first started competitively swimming as a member of the Wheaton Swim Club. His brother was already an established member of the team and Gentile wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps. It was here that Gentile was able to really hone and develop his swimming abilities.
As a swimmer, Gentile gives credit to his brother for not only starting swimming but his improvement as well. This was how his times improved once he started working hard and training. Luke respected this and knew he wanted to do the same when his time came.
Luke explains, “[Jason] had plenty of opportunities to quit, there were so many people in his grade who didn’t do club, who were just there for the social aspect.” Though, Gentile could see that his brother was there for more than just the social aspect and he admired that.
The bond between these brothers makes Gentile want to continue swimming and improve on a daily basis. A defining moment in both of the Gentile brothers swimming careers was Jason’s decision to join the club team in the first place.
Gentile explains, “freshman and sophomore year he [Jason] had no experience so he wasn’t good. Then he did club and his junior year he was a different swimmer.” Gentile commends his brother for sticking with it and joining club and working on his individual swimming ability,
After seeing how much of an improvement his brother had made by putting in the extra time and effort, Gentile came to the conclusion that he could do the same. “I saw how that much change could happen, that’s what made me think, okay I do this, I can get better and I did,” he says.
Gentile who didn’t even know how to dive his freshman year of high school has now gone on to swim at the collegiate level. He now owns the team’s best times in the 50 and 100 yard breaststroke events for this season.
Mark Schmitt, the North Central College head men’s swim coach also gave Luke a different perspective on improving as a swimmer. “Every coach I’ve had before Mark, focused on distance whereas Mark gave me more sprint sets,” Gentile continues “that made me change how I swim.”
Though, Gentile’s road to success was hindered by some adversity. As a senior in high school, Gentile had some injuries that were tough to overcome. He dealt with tendonitis in his left shoulder as well as rhabdomyolysis in both biceps in which he remembers, “couldn’t move them. It felt like they were stuck against his body outward at a 90-degree angle, and it hurt a lot.”
Though, he found the silver lining with his injuries and decided to pursue a career with North Central. In his mind, continuing to swim and improve would make his brother proud and prove to himself that he was better than all of his setbacks. “It was a bit of redemption because my senior year of high school was pretty injury ridden and I didn’t want to end on that.”
Further, Gentile wanted to come to North Central because of the opportunity to study exercise science.
He hopes to go to graduate school at Midwestern after his four years at North Central. After that he hopes to become a physical therapist in either the sports world or as an outpatient with companies like Athletico. Gentile has already put his plan into motion observing with Athletico.
Gentile’s passion for physical therapy comes from seeing himself and his brother sidelined by injuries that required therapy and seeing the results of that healing process.
When he dealt with his shoulder injury, he went to see a physical therapist and could see the impact it was having on his body. “Everyday, I was just slowly getting better, less pain each time I went,” he recalls.
When he isn’t in the pool or studying, Gentile can be found playing ultimate Frisbee with his friends or in his dorm playing video games such as Mario, Zelda and Overwatch. He also played volleyball and water polo at different times in his life.
Gentile would like to see the swim team grow and has stepped into a leadership position on the team to make this a reality. He has talked to high schoolers from around his hometown of Downers Grove to try give them information on how they can further their swimming careers with North Central. He hopes to go to finals in at least one event in his career here at North Central.
Gentile continues to work towards that goal by competing in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Swimming Championships on Feb 9.