CLOVER -- The Clover High School swim team is closing out a competitive fall season, highlighted by senior Ian Brown's state qualifying efforts in three events.
Prior to Saturday's region meet at the Rock Hill Aquatic Center, Brown had already swam two automatic times (AT), qualifying for the state meet in the 50 freestyle (23:78) and the 100 breaststroke with a timing of 1:09.20.
At the region meet, Brown also swam an AT in the 100 individual medley with a 2:18.87 clocking.
With each individual swimmer allowed to compete in two state events, Brown will determine which of the three categories he prefers.
Brown, who has competed since seventh grade, likes the head-to-head competition at swimming meets.
"Something drives me," he said. "I have a burning desire not to lose. It's hard to explain."
Though he's always had personal drive and self-motivation, Brown said watching world record-setting Michael Phelps bring home the gold for the U. S. was a moving experience.
"Watching him come from behind in the 100 butterfly to win by one-hundredth of a second was inspiring," he said.
CHS swim coach Joan Epping commended Brown for his state qualifying efforts and reviewed the season to date.
With 36 swimmers on this year's team, Epping said, the 14 male participants are the most ever.
"We've had trouble with injuries this season," noted Epping. "Unfortunately, there have been quite a few shoulder and knee problems.
"We seem to be getting healthy as the state meet approaches."
Epping said one of the team's hardest workers is senior Rachel Hester, a swim team participant since the seventh grade.
"We hate to see her go," declared the CHS coach. "Give me 30 Rachel Hesters on the team next year and I would be a very happy coach."
Hester, who is a member of the track team and a basketball manager, said hard work and two-a-day practices have made the team more competitive.
"It's been a fun season my senior year," she said. "I had my best times in the region meet."
Said Hester, "Interest in swimming is picking up. I think the program will continue to grow."
Epping said a dual meet Saturday against South Pointe allows Kenny Jeffrey the opportunity for an AT in the 500 freestyle or 200 individual medley.
"In both events, he is about two seconds away," she said. "Very doable in two long events like this."
The Class AAAA State Swim Meet is Oct. 11 at the Rock Hill Aquatic Center.