When Center Grove boys swim coach Jim Todd goes to finalize his sectional lineup next month, he’ll have one distinct advantage over the rest of the field — a wild card, so to speak.

Senior Garrett Crist is the ace up the Trojans’ sleeve.

“I could put Garrett Crist anywhere and he is going to give 110% effort no matter what he’s swimming,” Todd said, “I can put him anywhere at the end of the season, and he may or may not win, but he’s going to do everything he can to be the best that he can be.”

Usually, that’s pretty darn good.

A state qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle as a sophomore, finishing 19th, Crist expanded his repertoire a bit last winter by making it there in the 200 individual medley. At last month’s Johnson County meet, he finished first in both the IM and the 100 backstroke, earning Swimmer of the Meet honors on the boys side — and his times in those events (1:59.51 in the IM, 53.36 in the back) weren’t too far off from his career bests, a promising sign given how much faster swimmers generally get between the grueling December training and February, when they’re fully tapered.

Crist doesn’t have any idea yet where he’ll be slotted come postseason, but he’ll gladly go wherever Todd feels gives Center Grove the best chance at winning its first sectional championship in 10 years.

“I definitely think it’s nice, and I’m willing to do it,” Crist said. “Butterfly I’m not the best at, and I may drown, but I enjoy being put in whatever. It’s just like a dice roll of what will I be put in.”

He’s exaggerating about the fly, of course; though he considers it his weakest stroke, he’s still fast enough on that opening leg of the medley that he built almost a two-second lead for himself — nearly half his final margin of victory.

Though Crist hasn’t yet advanced to the second day of state in his individual events, he has still played a valuable role in the Trojans’ top-10 team finishes the last two years. Last season, he swam on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, both of which earned fifth-place medals.

Center Grove’s convincing victory at county provided the team with some additional confidence entering the home stretch of the season, and Crist is far more at ease now that he’s got his college decision out of the way (he’s committed to swim at Southern Indiana) and he has his whole family here to support him — Garrett’s father, Karl, returned home just before Thanksgiving after serving 10 months overseas in Romania as an Army firefighter.

“It definitely has helped,” Garrett said.

Beginning with this week’s Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference meet, Center Grove’s final one as a league member, Crist and his Trojan teammates will be focused on going “as fast as humanly possible” the rest of the way.

No matter what events Todd ends up putting him in — or even when he’s not in the pool at all — Crist can be counted on to deliver a quality effort.

“I think we all just want to strive for excellence, going all out, working our butts off in the water and outside the water in the classroom,” Crist said. “We’re trying to be the best that we can.”