There’s definitely a price Tim Schoof is paying now.

“A lot of cancelled plans,” the Michigan City swimmer said. “Morning practices are a sacrifice. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Because if you endure those early wake-up calls, you get to be one of the rising stars in the area. And maybe you get a chance to compete on a bigger stage in a few years.

Schoof, a sophomore, is looking to go to state in the 100-yard butterfly this season after finishing third at the LaPorte Sectional as a freshman behind Chesterton juniors Aaron Whitaker and Tony Kincaid.

A lot of swimmers would have considered that a good result, especially for a high school rookie. But good isn’t good enough for Schoof.

“Last year at the sectional, I didn’t swim the time I needed,” he said. “I wanted to go down to state that year.”

He wants it even more now, and figures to be in line to do so after swimming the state-qualifying time last summer in age-group competition. Plus, he’s got another year of experience and a pretty strong work ethic. It’s what has kept him in swimming after trying other sports, including soccer, when he was younger.

“You have to push yourself,” Schoof said. “I definitely feel like I’ve got to be in the water every day to do [well].”

That drive isn’t the only thing that sets Schoof apart from other swimmers. Also distinctive is the fact he’s been doing the butterfly since joining Michigan City’s age-group program at the age of 9 at the urging of his buddy Isaiah Parrish (who now swims for Valparaiso),

“The butterfly is definitely his strongest event,” Michigan City coach Dan Jenkins said of Schoof. “It was like a natural thing.”

Though he’s not even halfway through his high school career, Schoof can’t be blamed for looking ahead. Jenkins believes the longer college event, the 200 butterfly, already is a better event for his star.

But coach and athlete are very much focused on the present. Getting to the state cut for the butterfly (52.71 seconds) by sectional time is job one. He has gone 51.81 this season and, swimming tired, won last Friday’s Highland Invitational at 53.95.

But getting his time down remains a priority. Schoof doesn’t have the luxury of some swimmers in other parts of the state who can just go for the win in the sectional and plan on peaking at state.

“When you’ve got Aaron Whitaker still there, that’s always an issue,” Jenkins said of the defending state champ and state-record holder, who swam a 47.33 last year in the IHSAA meet.

So Schoof will keep pushing ahead, knowing the competition is doing the same. “’Just got to work harder,’ that’s what I tell myself,” he said. “I know they’re training hard, so I’ve got to train just as hard.”

Schoof found out what it takes to be an elite high school swimmer last year by watching senior Matt Quinlan, who made the state finals in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke before moving on to swim at Purdue.

“He was a big help,” Schoof said. “He pushed me a lot.”

Now Schoof is pushing himself.