IOWA CITY — Swim fast is the goal for all competitive swimmers. NCMP’s Cardinals had a tremendous district meet a week before with drop in times by each one of the swimmers.
“We had such a good district meet, and it definitely a challenge to get faster in a week’s time. It was exciting to get here, but the state meet is swimming on the big stage. It is so intense even for veteran swimmers,” NCMP boys’ head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I’m so proud of the guys and how they swam today.”
The NCMP contingent of five swimmers in two relay events and three individual races had two seniors, two juniors and one sophomore competing in the 2018 Iowa High School Boys’ Swim Championships on Saturday at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City.
Only one of the five had been to a state high school meet before — senior Jacob Knoll. Knoll was a sophomore as a member of a relay team in 2016.
Senior Caleb Gaylor posted the state’s fastest qualifying time of 21.0 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. He swam a touch slower at the state meet — 21.68 seconds — finishing eighth, earning a state medal.
West Des Moines Valley junior Jacob Keller, who was seeded sixth, won the state 50 freestyle title in 20.75 seconds. He went almost a second faster than his district meet time.
“I felt like today went well, but not as well as I hoped,” Gaylor said. “It was my first state meet and I was really nervous. I didn’t know how to react to it all. I still placed on the podium, which I’m happy about.”
Gaylor said he thought if he had qualified for the state as a junior, he would have done better this year. He said he was happy with his season as whole.
Gaylor set NCMP records in the 50-yard freestyle and the 50-meter freestyle events this season. He also has the team record in the 400-meter freestyle.
NCMP opened the state meet swimming in the first event. The Cardinal 200 medley relay team of Knoll, junior Carter Briggs, Gaylor and junior Mason Lee posted a time of 1 minute, 42.14 seconds for 21st. Knoll led off with the backstroke followed by Briggs in the breaststroke, Gaylor in the butterfly and Lee swimming the freestyle anchor leg.
“Being a senior at my second state, it felt like had more pressure on me,” Knoll said. “It went really well today. Even though I didn’t drop time here at state, it doesn’t define my season. I started out slow this year and dropped times throughout the season.”
After a break in the state meet following the 50 freestyle, Gaylor was back in the water for the 100 butterfly. Gaylor just missed the medal podium, finishing ninth in 52.75 seconds. The seventh-place time was 52.37 and eighth-place time was 52.63.
Knoll, Gaylor and Lee combined with sophomore Jacob Nedder in the 200 freestyle relay. The NCMP foursome dropped its time a bit, going 1:29.66 for 15th. Their district time was 1:29.75.
“I dropped time in the event I swam and I gave it my all for the team. I think it went well for my first state meet,” Nedder said. “I’ve got some improvements to make for next year. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished this season.”
Lee said he thought the NCMP relays were very good, but the 200 free was probably better for him. He said he definitely plans to work hard to get back to state next year, including individual events.
“Against all of the odds we had this week, we held our own here at state,” Lee said.
Briggs competed in the 100 breaststroke. He finished 24th with a time of 103.61. Briggs said he was a little tight in the event and didn’t swim quite as well as he did at the district meet.
“I gave it my all and that’s all I can do,” Briggs. “It’s a big meet. I’ve been a quite a few big meets at this pool and every time you come here, you learn something new. It’s a great experience.”
Patterson had nothing but praise for the NCMP swimmers on the big stage of a state swim meet.
“It was fun today and the guys swam with everything they had,” Patterson said. “The 200 free relay dropped a bit of time. Everybody looked really good and they were excited to be here and compete. For the seniors, obviously they won’t get another chance to compete, but for the other guys gave them some fire to be here next year.”
Even junior Adam Hunter, who was the team’s alternate at state this year and didn’t get to compete, learned what a state meet is all about.
‘I learned it was pretty cool at state. Also I learned how everything goes on at a state meet,” Hunter said. “I really hope I can come next year to compete not just swim in warm ups.”
“This season was so good for our program, and everybody involved contributed to that,” Patterson said.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
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