IOWA CITY — The Martin name has been synonymous in swimming in the state of Iowa for at least the past decade.
The expectation for anyone who’s had that last name is to be a state champion. Not if but when.
For the latest sibling, sophomore Finn Martin, his time is now.
The leader of the Newton-Colfax-Mingo-Pella boys’ swim team captured his first state championship on Saturday after winning the 50-yard freestyle at the Iowa High School Boys State Swimming Championships inside the sold-out Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on the campus of the University of Iowa.
“It feels great. I have been practicing all year for this. It’s awesome,” Martin said. “I added a little bit of time. I wanted the state record, but I still won and I’m happy with winning.”
Martin came up a little short in the 100 freestyle, but swam his fastest time ever to finish second. And it feeds his hunger for next season.
“There’s so much left for him still,” NCMP head boys swim coach Lucas Warner said. “This is going to drive him to get those records and he’s already driven enough.
“The sky’s the limit for his career. I have no doubt he will be at the top for a long time.”
It was a solid weekend for the Cardinals overall. Ethan Comer and Martin swam in preliminary heats for three separate individual events on Friday and then joined teammates Caleb Punt and MacK Copeland for the 200 freestyle relay on Saturday.
Comer came into the state meet seeded 31st in the 100 breaststroke but finished 27th with a career-best time of 1 minute, 1.69 seconds.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Martin, Punt, Comer and Copeland finished 18th in a season-best 1:30.01.
“The guys swam really well. They were fired up,” Warner said. “I’m happy they got to swim in the state meet and all four guys are back next year. And there are a few who were close to them and competing for those spots this year who are also back next year. There’s going to be some good competition. I’m excited about the future.”
The future is now for all four NCMP swimmers who competed at the state meet.
Martin qualified first in the 50 preliminaries on Friday with a career-best time of 20.27 seconds. That’s a new school record and an automatic time for All-American status.
Before this season, the previous 50 freestyle school record was 21.0. That was set by Caleb Heiar in 2018.
Martin didn’t improve his time in the 50 final on Saturday, but he wasn’t much slower either. His championship-winning time was 20.31, which also is automatic All-American status.
Dowling Catholic’s Nick Rounds finished second in 20.35. There were five swimmers who went under 21 seconds.
Martin qualified second for Saturday’s 100 freestyle final. His preliminary time of 44.92 was a career-best. It also set a new school record and was a time that will be considered for All-American status.
Owen Chiles of Pleasant Valley edged Martin for the top spot in the preliminaries and then increased his advantage in the final.
Chiles qualified first with a 44.26 in the prelims and then won the 100 freestyle state title with a time of 43.42, which was a new state meet record.
“I want to get that 50 record bad and now I want to get the 100 record, too,” Martin said. “That guy who just beat me set the record and he’s not that much better than me.”
The latest Martin won his first individual title faster than his older brother Oliver, who was the 50 freestyle champion as a senior in 2017. His sister Scarlet was a multiple-time state champion, too, and she won her first as a freshmen.
Those titles came at Iowa City West. Finn Martin is the first state champion for NCMP since Isaak Webb won the 100 breaststroke title in 2015.
“It’s awesome,” Finn Martin said. “All of my siblings had their own journeys in high school and college. It’s cool that I’m kind of making my own journey.”
Comer said he still needs to work on his turns in the 100 breaststroke. His time of 1:01.69 was more than a full second behind the 16th and last ‘B’ final qualifying time, which was 1:00.12. Swimmers needed a 57.20 to qualify for the ‘A’ final.
“It was a good experience. It was really fun,” Comer said. “I dropped a second off my time so I was pretty happy with that. I think I swam pretty well. I also think I could have been stronger, especially on my turns.”
Comer’s path to the state meet this season came with great work ethic in the offseason.
“He improved so much throughout the season. He works so hard,” Warner said. “He showed up and completely changed his work ethic. He went to optional practices and took advantage of every opportunity he had, and I have no doubt he will be back here next year.”
Copeland and Martin both swam on NCMP’s state-qualifying 400 freestyle relay team last year. The Pella junior’s experience was much different this year.
“Last year was longer because it was the last event and a longer race. It felt a lot more intense this season,” Copeland said. “I didn’t get the time I wanted, but I’m not disappointed. We all swam great.
“Finn did amazing coming off two awesome races. Ethan and Caleb did amazing, too. We all worked as hard as we could.”
Like Comer, Punt was experiencing the state meet for the first time. The Pella freshman loved the overnight experience and hopes to get back there next season.
“It was a really great time,” Punt said. “I didn’t expect to be here. I wasn’t sure we’d get a relay, but things have come together and we finished strong. Now, we just need to get faster and hopefully qualify again next year.”
Warner had a hard time putting Martin’s title into words. Mostly because it was the expectation from the beginning of the season.
“I’m not taking anything away from him, but that’s what he expected,” Warner said. “And he put that expectation for himself onto me. He wanted me to hold him to that standard and to treat him as a state champion.
“I could see it in his eyes. He practiced like a state champ every single day. Not one time did he show up, look at me and say he was going to try. It was always I will.”
Notes: Finn Martin’s time in the 100 freestyle at last year’s state meet was 46.62. That’s almost a 2-second improvement. “I have improved from last season a lot,” Martin said. “We’ll work to get it faster.” … Martin went from 11th in the 50 last year to first this season. He finished sixth in the 100 last winter. … Oliver Martin won just one individual state title during his prep days at Iowa City West but was part of seven state championship relay teams. Ruby Martin did not win a sanctioned state title because she swam for her club team. Scarlet Martin still holds multiple state-meet records.