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Article Published February 15, 2020

Porter Makes Waves in the Water

By By Dean Bibens

William “Beecher” Porter is a versatile athlete who’s highly skilled in both sports that he competes in. A senior at Daniel Hand High School, Beecher is an All-State athlete for the boys’ swimming and diving team who finished second in both the 100 and 200 freestyles at last year’s Class M State Championship. While he’s seen plenty of success in the pool, Beecher is also an excellent rower who’s been offered a spot in the men’s crew program at Yale University, where he will attend beginning in the fall of 2020.

“These past two years, I’ve started rowing more than swimming. I’ve just been swimming in the high school season, basically,” says Beecher. “So, prior to [the swimming] season last year, I had been rowing, and I really wasn’t expecting to do all that great at the State Tournament.”

Beecher exceeded his own expectations and then some at last season’s Class M meet. Beecher earned runner-up honors in 100 freestyle (48.27) and the 200 freestyle (1:46.39), setting personal-best times in both events, while helping Hand take second place as a team.

“Those were two lifetime bests for me. I was a little surprised, but I was very happy,” Beecher says. “I didn’t start off the year great, but just kept getting better and better as the season progressed. I’m hoping that’s what I can do this year and, hopefully, get a win at states.”

Head Coach Christina Forristall calls Beecher one of the best athletes that she’s ever coached, as well as a great leader. Beecher holds four school records as a member of the Tigers, including his 100 and 200 freestyle times from states last year. He also swam on Hand’s record-setting 200 freestyle relay (1:30.94) and 400 freestyle relay (3:16.60) teams.

“Beecher always puts his team before his own goals,” says Forristall. “He teaches the underclassmen in a constructive way and he also takes constructive criticism as an opportunity to be better.”

Beecher continues to contribute to the Tigers’ success in his senior season. Hand currently has a record of 4-3, having notched wins against Hamden, Sheehan, Shelton, and Notre Dame-West Haven. Hand took defeats to Fairfield Prep and Amity last week, but Coach Forristall was impressed with how Beecher stepped out of his comfort zone to help the squad.

“At Amity the other night, he was very encouraging of all the other swimmers and even swam in some events that he doesn’t normally compete in to try and help us earn points,” Forristall says. “While we didn’t come away with the win, that’s the kind of effort that shows Beecher’s character. He’s a great competitor and a great friend to all of his teammates.”

While Beecher wants the Tigers to win as many meets as possible, he realizes that there is a bigger picture.

“For me, winning is great. But there’s more to it than winning,” says Beecher. “I like seeing our improvement as a team and that for me is the best part of competing in any sport.”

Beecher originally thought that he would be continuing his swimming career in college. However, with a family background in rowing, he decided to change course.

“My dad [Will Porter] is the head coach of the women’s Yale rowing team, so I’ve been around the sport forever,” Beecher says. “There’s not as many opportunities when you’re younger to get involved in rowing, and I was doing swimming for so long that I didn’t start rowing until recently.”

Beecher is a member of the Old Lyme Rowing Association and competes for the Blood Street Sculls. His crew took fourth place out of 85 teams in the Men’s Youth Fours Division at the 55th annual Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston.

“That was a really cool experience for me and my team, because we were going up against such great competition,” Beecher says. “That event really piqued my interest in rowing, and I’m excited to continue doing it in college.”

Beecher is just as strong in the classroom as he is in athletics. Beecher ranks in the top 10 of his class at Hand, is a co-leader for the Habitat for Humanity Club, and also a member of the Diversity Club.

“I try to stay as active as possible in the community and helping others,” says Beecher. “We do a lot of builds in the city of New Haven for the Habitat for Humanity Club, and I enjoy that a lot.”