CADILLAC — On one hand, Abraham Apfel never thought he'd be a collegiate swimmer.
And when the Cadillac High School senior finally figured out he could help pay for school with the sport, his final destination is even a little more out there.
Apfel signed his National Letter of Intent for swimming at Virginia Tech on Wednesday, wrapping up a lengthy process.
That process sort of began in the third grade when he began swimming but it wasn't until much, much later that it clicked he could be a collegiate swimmer.
"No way, never…not when I started," Apfel said. "It didn't really hit me until maybe my freshman or sophomore year of high school that I thought I had the capability to carry it for another few years."
Apfel competed with the Cadillac YMCA Currents team from third through eighth grade while also competing as an unattached athlete with USA Swimming from the sixth through ninth grades.
He hooked with Club Wolverine Swim Team in Ann Arbor and has been with them since his freshman year.
When it came time to start thinking about colleges, the two schools that interacted the most with him were Virginia Tech and Purdue.
"I had to send a bunch of emails to a bunch of different schools saying I had interest in them," Apfel said. "A lot of them just said keep us posted on your progress.
"Virginia Tech and Purdue invited me to visit. I went to both and I loved them both but I loved Virginia Tech just a little more."
Apfel said it was just a feeling he had while visiting the NCAA Division I school in Blacksburg, Virgina.
"It was a pretty tough decision and pretty stressful, too," he said. "I sort of made it back in September to myself, though.
"When I went to Virginia Tech, I felt like the coaches and the team were just one family and it was a great atmosphere. They always have a great drive for success and want to get better."
Sergio Lopez Miro has been at the helm of Virginia Tech since May 2018 after two seasons as the associated head coach at Auburn and the head high performance coach of the Singapore Swimming Association. He's coached Olympic swim teams in Singapore and the Netherlands.
Apfel's season is year-round at this point with peak training in the winter and summer seasons. He practices at the Cadillac Area YMCA five to six times a week after school and two to three times a week before school.
He also heads to Ann Arbor most weekends to work with Club Wolverine.
His swimming has taken him all over the country with some pretty good results.
• YMCA Nationals, sixth grade
• 13-14 200-yard backstroke state champion, eighth grade
• Open Age Group 200 backstroke state champion, eighth grade
• Open Age Group 200 backstroke state champion, 10th grade
• Open Age Group 200 IM state champion, 11th grade
• Open Age Group 200 backstroke state champion, 11th grade
• Open Age Group 100 freestyle state champion, 11th grade
• National Club Swimming Association Championships Long Course — qualified, 10th grade; placed seventh, 11th grade
• TYR Pro Swim Series — 25th place 200 backstroke, 11th grade
• Speedo Winter Junior Nationals, 11th grade
• Speedo Sectionals Championship Series — 3rd place 200 backstroke; 11th place 200 IM; 10th place 100 backstroke
• Summer Junior Nationals — 19th place 200 backstroke, 11th grade
• Scholastic All-American, 12th grade
With the college decision wrapped up, Apfel can continue training for a big meet he's got coming up next month.
Academically, he's looking into chemical engineering but made the decision to go to Virginia Tech because he can wait before making a final decision.
"Virginia Tech offers general engineering for their first year and I'm looking at possibly becoming a chemical engineer so I liked the idea of having one year of general (studies) before I classify," he said.