Kyle White is a proven sprinter with the potential to climb the podium at the Sac-Joaquin Section Swim Championships in two events – the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.
The Downey High senior experienced a dream-come-true moment last spring in the fast waters at Tokay High School, qualifying for the CIF State meet in both events.
He returns to the section meet a favorite, a marked man, only you won’t see the Cal Baptist commit on the block for either signature sprint. White seeks a greater challenge. He’ll swim the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, accepting a challenge from his club coach, Erik Zador of Ripon Aquatics.
It’s kind of scary to think about, that I’m not really guaranteed a spot at States this year like in my 50 and 100 free. This year, I have to earn it and will be difficult.
Kyle White, Downey High swimmer and 2016 CIF State qualifier, on attempting new events at the section meet
“We’re throwing something else into his bag of trick. He’s already going to Cal Baptist and he’s always been a sprinter,” said Zador, a four-time section champion at Stagg High in the mid-1990s. “We thought, ‘What the heck, let’s see what he can do.’ He’s never competed in those events.”
Not at the section level.
White’s risky program is buoyed by recent swims. He broke a 45-year-old school record in the 100 fly at the Modesto Metro Conference championship. White went 51.39, shaving more than four-tenths off the decades-old mark.
He should be even faster on Friday and Saturday.
“At first it was kind of hard transitioning to mid-distance, but the more and more I did it at meets, the more I got used to it,” White said of the 200 free. “Honestly, I’m not nervous about my 200 free going into this meet. I’m looking forward to it, because I’ve trained all season for it.
“The 100 fly I’m really excited for because I have been doing really well at it this year ... and it’s still pretty much a sprint event.”
The section meet begins Thursday with the girls’ trials. The boys dive into the pool on Friday for trials. Finals are Saturday. The top-three swimmers in each event, along with those that post qualifying times, advance to the CIF State Swim and Dive Championships in Clovis.
For the third year in a row, the Stanislaus District is brimming with hopefuls.
White will be supported by a host of Ripon Aquatic teammates, including Ripon junior Ty Wells, who seeks to become the only swimmer in district history to appear at all three State meets, and Gregori junior Andrew Britton.
Wells will swim the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke. He advanced to State in both events last spring, and he’ll be a favorite in the 100 breaststroke after finishing second to Scott Tolman of Sierra last spring. Tolman is now a freshman at Cal Baptist.
Like White and Wells, Britton advanced to State in two events in 2016. The reigning All-District Boys Water Polo Player of the Year will look to duplicate that feat in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
Ripon junior Mallory Brubaker and Elizabeth Wenner also have high hopes. Brubaker will test her endurance in the 200 and 500 freestyle events, while Wenner will swim the 50 and 100 free.
“All of the challenging practices and early mornings were meant to prepare us for this meet, so it is definitely an exciting three days,” Brubaker said. “I know for me, personally, this is one of my favorite weekends of the year, because not only does our team swim really well, but it really shows how close and like a family we are.”
In all, the Valley Oak League champion Indians have placed six in varsity events, including junior Chloe Winter (100 fly, 200 IM), senior Andria Martin (50 free, 100 backstroke), and senior Kyra Foley (100 breaststroke).
“Sections is a stressful and exciting time and I am lucky to share this experience with the best friends and teammates,” Wenner said. “I am so excited to see how far everyone has come this past year. We all work hard and this is the time for it to show.”
Zador believes the third rendition of State will be the fastest because it’s a non-Olympic year. The pace will be set at sections.
“I think people will go after it a little more,” Zador said, “but then again, we just don’t know.”
White shares in that uncertainty.
His program might be the most daring of the local qualifiers.
“His fly at the MMC meet was low and broke the school record,” Zador said. “He was pretty excited and he wasn’t even tapered. I think he could be a great 200 freestyler, too. He has a hard time with the idea, but he took my advice.”
White hopes the risk is worth the reward.
“There were several times this year that I tried to convince Erik to let me do the 50 free instead of the 100 fly at sections, but he always thought it wasn’t a good idea and would bring me back to my senses,” he said. “It’s kind of scary to think about, that I’m not really guaranteed a spot at States this year like in my 50 and 100 free.
“This year, I have to earn it and will be difficult.”