The competiton is continuing at the Rock Hill Aquatics Center in the USA Swimming South Carolina State Championships. One of those young athletes heating up the pool is Fort Mill High School senior Alex Carr.
Carr is the best distance swimmer for the Rock Hill Rays, according to one of his coaches, Susan Snyder. He competed in the 400-meter individual medley finals Saturday night and recorded his best time by one second at 4:14. He also dropped five seconds off his time in the 200-meter fly to 2:03.
"He is the hardest worker I have seen in a long time," said coach Lynn Williams. "He is very dedicated and he has been swimming well with no rest with the YMCA Nationals in Fort Lauderdale coming up in April. He is also a good student, and any college would be lucky to have him. He has a great future."
As far as college choices go, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Clemson are possibilities for Alex. It appears the Tigers might have the upper hand in the battle for his services at the next level as he said he is leaning toward swimming for the orange and purple next year.
He is not just focused on his own personal future, but in the future of those younger swimmers who are following him. Snyder said he is very helpful with the younger athletes. When asked why he is so willing to help out, Carr responded, "I just want to set an example."
"That way I can have something to come back in a couple of years and see, like leaving a legacy, I guess."
One of Carr's younger teammates is South Pointe High School freshman Brian Peterson. "His best swimming is still ahead of him," Williams said. "He is very tall and he is still growing. He is strong and Merve (fellow coach Merve Faassen-DeHeer) is working on some technique changes that are going to help him."
Brian said he competed in the 50-meter freestyle Sunday morning and did well. He still had the 100-meter backstroke and 500-meter freestyle to come. "South Carolina is a good swimming state," said Peterson.
Yet another Fort Mill Yellow Jacket on the Rays' squad is junior Jenny Russell. She made the finals in the 400-meter individual medley and 100-meter breastroke, where the fastest 20 compete in the championship and consolation rounds.
"Jenny is an outstanding young lady," Williams said. "She has really stepped up and has been working hard as a team leader. We really expect good things from her."
Another one of Williams' young athletes, Sam VanBuskirk, dropped six seconds off his time in the 200-meter breastroke with a 2:33.82. He finished third in the heat in the 13-14 year-old boys and qualified for his first final. He would be seeded seventh. Sam is another Fort Mill student. "That was an excellent swim," said an obviously excited Williams.
The concern and interest in the success of her young athletes was evident as Williams counselled 14-year-old Allie Barilla, also from Fort Mill. There was nothing but support and encouragement for her pupil as young Allie listened intently and earnestly to her coach's instructions. "She has made some technique changes, and any time you do that, it takes a while," said Williams. "She has adjusted well and is really coming around. She is trying to do more and more work in the water."
Williams was very pleased with the efforts and results from both her swimmers and fellow coaches to this point. "We have had great swims so far," she said Sunday. "They've been awesome this morning, and we hope to continue today and tomorrow. The seniors will be honored tonight as a reward for all the hard work they have put in, and the trophies will be presented Monday night. Everyone has worked hard and it shows. Our coaches have done a great job."
Tonight's finals are set to beging at 5 p.m.
Please see results online at swimrays.com.