Chase-ing down a Leibhart legacy


Clay Stone

Junior Chase Leibhart coaches and practices block starts after a long practice. Leibhart is headed to State for the third time in as many years. He credits his hunger for getting better to the influence of his dad and brothers.

Eight years.


That’s how much time junior Chase Leibhart spent practicing a sport he didn’t love. Leibhart, along with his two brothers Zane and Cooper, started his swim career at just 6-years-old. From first to eighth grade, Leibhart and his brothers swam for clubs and younger teams. He said his dad pushed them to get involved in swim early. “It started as just something that was good for us and was good for other sports, but Zane was super good at [swimming],” Leibhart said.


Leibhart watched as his older brother, Zane, qualified for State during each of his years on the high school swim team. He still didn’t enjoy the sport. “I hated swimming,” he said. Reaching the high school level changed his perception, “I realized that if I pushed myself, I could be kind of good. Then I started getting higher placing at bigger meets,” he said.


Clay Stone
Leibhart extends backward off the block into a traditional backstroke start. Backstroke is Leibhart’s best event and the one that earned him State qualification. Before swimming for the high school, he had a lot of practice with the Greater Nebraska Swim Team (GNST).


Freshman and sophomore year, Leibhart made back-to-back State appearances. One of those, he got to compete with his older brother. This year, he’s taken home five first-place wins. At Lincoln High on January 18, he also took home his first individual State qualifying time. “I fixed my pull on backstroke, that should shave off a couple of seconds,” Leibhart said. And that change made all the difference. He qualified for State by less than half a second.


As far as the legacy that he wants to leave at the high school, Leibhart says that he should be able to break the backstroke record next year. He does think that the legacy will get passed down to his 13-year-old brother. “I’m sure Cooper will break [that record], he’s doing so well at what age he is. And he has two older brothers to push him,” he said.


Clay Stone
Leibhart advises the swimmer in the water how to make a clean backstroke start. Both of Leibhart’s relay teams are only a few seconds off State-qualification. The girls’ relays have already qualified with a few new school records.


For now though, Leibhart isn’t worried about the record; he’s more focused on being a good leader. “When I lead my lane, then everyone else pushes themselves to keep up with me,” he said. “When they do, then they are at my heels and I push myself even harder.” 


Leibhart went from hating to loving the lanes, and North Platte High School is going to have to wait and see just how big this Leibhart legacy will be.