Sports

Knights’ Adrian simply the best

Left, Nathan Adrian, center, of Bremerton, smiles after a day of hard work, claiming two state titles in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles. Adrian’s 200 time set a new state record, topping Ugur Taner, of Newport, who set the record in 1991.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Left, Nathan Adrian, center, of Bremerton, smiles after a day of hard work, claiming two state titles in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles. Adrian’s 200 time set a new state record, topping Ugur Taner, of Newport, who set the record in 1991.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

FEDERAL WAY — “Omigosh, look at that guy. He’s a fish.”

“He’ll be out of the pool and showered before the rest finish.”

“We’ll see him again in Beijing.”

One swimmer had everyone talking at the Class 4A state meet Friday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 19 in the King County Aquatic Center.

All of these statements and more could be overheard as fans and even other athletes being interviewed about their own races discussed Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian, a U.S. junior national teamer and a two-time state champion as a freshman, who added two more state championships in this, his senior year, one in state-record time, to cap off a season in which he has already earned a slot as an All-American.

Adrian just soaked it all in.

“I love it,” he said. “The stands are so crowded.”

He had captured everyone’s attention in the preliminaries, but shrugged it off for the most part.

“(Prelims) are just kind of the day to make it back to (Saturday),” he said. “(In the finals,) that’s when I’d really like a record.”

Much was made of Adrian’s chase to capture the records of Ugur Taner, a Newport High swimmer who went on to become a member of the Turkish Olympic team after tearing through the water effortlessly in the early 1990s at Washington state competitions.

The curious got their chance to see Adrian in action early, with Adrian swimming in the second preliminary event, the men’s 200-yard freestyle. He swam a 1:38.60, nearly three seconds quicker than his seed time.

“My goal was actually 1:39,” Adrian said. “I’m happy where I was at.”

Even a false start in the race couldn’t rattle him too much.

“The false start got me cold,” he said. “I don’t really like being cold.”

Adrian’s next swim was the 100 freestyle. Again he made his presence known, shaving a couple tenths of a second off his season-best for a 45.74.

The guy doesn’t rest, however. He kept swimming in the warm-up pool until just two minutes before he had to compete in the Knights’ 200 free relay.

In that event, the Knights finally put together good swims from each of its performers to get back to Saturday’s consolation final with a 14th-best 1:33.35.

“The relay was good,” said Bremerton coach Peter Tonder. “We were seeded 20 and we got 14th. I think they all got personal bests. We set Nathan out first to see what he could get.”

What he got as a 20.71-second 50-yard time, less than seven-tenths of a second behind Taner’s state record time.

“He set himself up good for the final,” Tonder said of Adrian’s preliminary times. “”He’s amazing. Everybody in the building is just like ‘Wow.’”

Indeed, in the final, Adrian was even more amazing. He started the day off on the right foot with a 1:37.17 in the 200 free, one-hundredth of a second better than Taner’s 1991 time.

He shaved more than a second and a half off his preliminary time for a state title-worthy 44.08-second 100 free.

For a swimmer known as a sprinter, Adrian said he felt the longer races “have been going very well.”

The relay team of Adrian, Andrew Pohl, Matt Lindberg and JR Ramos-Yap improved from the 14th best time to the seventh-

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