From Staff Reports
Dalton’s Ethan Young made his first trip to the medal stand at a USA Swimming national meet on Saturday, taking third place in the 200-yard backstroke at the Speedo Winter Junior Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.
And while the Dalton High School sophomore might have been standing on the top step with a stronger final 50 yards, his medal and his time of 1 minute, 43.06 seconds — the second-fastest for a 15- or 16-year-old boy in USA Swimming history — were anything but consolation prizes.
Young, 15, who was representing the Carpet Capital Aquatics Club (CCAC) at the 18-and-younger meet, claimed his highest finish at a national meet a day after placing fourth in the 100 backstroke, where he had the third-fastest time for a 15-16 boy in USA Swimming history.
Before Saturday, Young’s fastest time in the 200 backstroke was 1:46.56, which set the national age-group record for 14-year-old boys last year. He clocked a 1:45.96 in Saturday’s preliminaries before blowing that away in the championship final, which he led from the start until the final trip down the 25-yard pool.
“I took a look across the field underwater at the 25 and then I took another look across the pool at the 175, and it wasn’t until the 175 that I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I’m still in this,’” Young said. “That will be one race that will haunt me for a while because I didn’t really carry out the game plan like (CCAC coach Charles Todd) and I had hoped. But I really can’t complain.”
Trista Sanders, 17, won the race in 1:42.50, while 18-year-old Stuart Henness was second in 1:42.75. Young was the only 15-year-old in any of the finals. The top 24 swimmers in preliminaries make the A, B or C finals, depending on their times.
Young said he grew tired by the final 50 yards after a fast start — he completed the first 100 yards in 49.1 seconds — and failed to kick enough underwater after his last turn, which let Sanders and Henness slip ahead on the home stretch.
“On laps 5 and 6 he went short underwater and that cost him a little bit,” Todd said. “But, boy, he had a fantastic swim and I’m by no means complaining — 1:43.06 is darn quick and he should be able to learn from this and win it next time.”
Despite his age, Young has considerable experience at national meets compared to many at such events, including 18-year-olds who are months away from being college swimmers.
“He’s not too intimidated,” Todd said. “This is his fourth national swimming meet.”
Young said he thrives in such situations because of the high-level atmosphere.
“The experience from this is going to be great,” he said. “It’s going to be something that I’ll carry into my training going into high school state and nationals next summer.”
The Georgia High School Association’s Class A-5A state meet is in February, while the USA Swimming Junior Nationals are in August.
Todd is optimistic this is only the beginning for Young.
“He needs to just stay doing what coaches tell him to do,” Todd said. “(CCAC assistant coach) Jason Meszaros and myself, we try to give our swimmers season plans and goals for the year. He just needs to stay with it and trust his coaches to get him to the next level. If he does that, he’ll be fine.”