Yesterday was the Sierra League Swim Championships at Mt. Sac. Stephen had qualified for both the 200 free and the 500 free. He already had pretty good CIF consideration times and was confident he'd make it there for both events. So he wasn't that worried about his times, but of course wanted to do well.
His first event was the 200 free. He came into the event seeded 4th with a time of 1:49.62. He finished in 4th with a time of 1:47.91. So he was happy with his improvement.
Then later came the 500 free. He went into this one seeded 2nd with a time of 4:55.19. That was his best time ever with a 2.34 second improvement at prelims. So he went into this one just hoping to be able to repeat this time. He started out the first few laps out in front. With 5 laps to go the 1st seed made a push and started to catch him. With 3 laps to go, they were neck and neck. At that point, the entire crowd was on their feet screaming. Now let me tell you, the 500 free is a long event that most people use as a break time and don't pay much attention to. It's 20 laps and usually there is a few body lengths between swimmers. So the fact that this was such a close race for so many laps, made for a really exciting race. Stephen said he saw Dylan pull ahead after the final turn and just said, "No way, this is not gonna happen". He swam like he's never swam before and came in 1st place! His time was 4:47.21, which was a full 2 seconds under the automatic CIF time. It was such a crazy excitement. Bill and I both teared up. The emotions ranged from pride, to just sheer happiness for Stephen. He's worked so hard these four years of high school. So it was just awesome to see him do so well. Their coach was amazed too. Stephen is not a swimmer, he's a water polo player that swims because it was mandatory his freshman & sophomore year for water polo players. In fact at premlims I was running late and had to watch his race from outside the gates. I stood next to some students from the college. They were talking to each other commenting on what a horrible stroke the kid in lane four had. Then one of the girls said, "Yeah it's bad, but he won". Well that was Stephen. As his coach and my dad both said after that race, it was won with all heart.
He said he's never had so many people come up and congratulate him afterward. When he passed by the stands afterward to go cool down, everyone applauded and cheered for him. It was the perfect way to end his swimming career!
This is Stephen on the left and Corey on the right. They are two of the three seniors on the swim team and are the two captains this year. They have had a great time, leading the boys to a first place finish with a team they weren't sure was going to win league this year. Turns out they had some amazing freshman and a great group of boys. I think these memories will be with them for the rest of their lives, I know I won't ever forget that last race!