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Centennial High School student Cade McAndrew, 16, poses with his baritone in front of the school's pool Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Champaign. The junior will be auditioning for a spot in the all-state band while also competing in swimming sectionals.

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CHAMPAIGN — Swim, school, band, sleep, repeat. Then throw in some homework, extra practices and a part-time job lifeguarding at the YMCA.

A member of both the Centennial High School swim team and band, Cade McAndrew’s days are so jam-packed, he barely has time to eat.

“I don’t have free time, ever,” he said.

Especially since he is nearing the peak of both seasons, with the Illinois Music Education Association Conference this weekend in Peoria and swimming sectionals in early February.

The soon-to-be-17-year-old started swimming when he was 8 years old.

“My mom told me I was gonna do something ... And next thing I know, I’m swimming,” he said.

He first picked up the baritone in middle school, but band did not become a priority until high school.

On Thursday, he will be auditioning for his chair in the ILMEA all-state band, the only Centennial band student to make it to that level this year.

“It means a lot to me that I made it, because I’ve never seen myself as the best player,” he said.

But making music in Peoria does not mean McAndrew catches a break from swimming. His mom, Stacy Arie, will be driving him to and from the YMCA in Peoria to swim some laps.

A strong support system helps him through his busiest days, which at times start at 5 a.m. and don’t end until 10 p.m.

His band director and swim coach are understanding if, for example, swim practice runs a little late into pep band. But his biggest supporter is his mother, who brings him something to eat when he practices through breakfast or lunch.

“She’ll nag me to make sure I get stuff done. She’s always helping me, making sure I get homework done and that I’m actually going to practice,” McAndrew said.

“I’m a very lucky mom,” she said.

As for the future, McAndrew does not plan on making a career out of swimming or music, but wants to go to school for something chemistry-related, with maybe some music on the side.

“In my physics class, we have something we do called a passion project, which is where we do something we’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time,” he said. “One of the things I want to do is extract caffeine from coffee beans.”

News-Gazette