GRESHAM — Competing at the state level can either make or break a young swimmer.
If that swimmer is not immune to the pressure, he or she may end up boiling over with excitement and fail to reach the highest level.
But not Henry Burton.
The HRV junior had been to state once before, and knew exactly what he was getting himself into at the Feb. 21-22 OSAA state swimming championships at the Mt. Hood Aquatic Center.
Burton surpassed even his own expectations by finishing 10th in the 100 butterfly with a time of 55.77 seconds. His preliminary time of 55.29 was even faster, and helped him achieve his goal of reaching day two at state.
“This is the meet I have been working toward all year,” said Burton, who qualified 14th with a 56.07 time at district. “District was my prelims, and I knew I could swim faster at state.”
Burton said that after being seeded 14th, his goal was to move into the top 12 and compete in the consolation finals. Next year, he hopes to move into the top six so he can compete for the state title — won by senior Patrick O’Neill of Roseburg in a state-record time of 49.41.
“I’ve been swimming against a lot of these guys since I was a little kid,” Burton said. “I know how much they practice, and it can be a little intimidating.
“But I can’t worry too much about what everyone else is doing. I just need to keep improving my times and see where it takes me next year,” he said.
Burton also swam the fly leg on the 200 medley relay, which finished in 15th place after qualifying 17th (see story below).
“I expected to go fast today,” Burton said after Friday’s prelims. “I’ve been gearing up for state for a long time, and I think I can go even faster on Saturday.”
While his Friday time was roughly five-tenths of a second faster than the Saturday consolation finals, he still moved into the top 10, and gained valuable experience for his senior year.
“I’m pretty happy with how I swam,” he said. “I’m already looking forward to next year.”