Quincy swimmer Calloway has stellar day at state swim prelims
Quincy swimmer Jackson Calloway finished second in his heat and seventh overall in the 500-meter freestyle competition at the State Swim and Dive Championship Meet in Federal Way on Friday morning.
Calloway’s time of four minutes, 59.51 seconds stood as seventh-best of the 500-meter freestyle race and qualified him for the championship finals scheduled for Saturday.
Calloway, a junior, also finished 14th in the 200-meter freestyle and will compete in the consolation finals of that event, reserved for the ninth through 16th-place finishers. Last year, he won the 200-meter freestyle consolation finals at state.
Calloway struggled in the 200-meter freestyle all season long. Competitor that he is, Calloway said he had hoped to do better.
“I was hoping to get into the A finals,” he said, referring to the championship finals. “I’m a little bummed out but I gotta put that behind me and step up tomorrow.”
Step up he did, coming back from third place on his first lap in the 500-meter competition to take hold of second place in the second lap and hang on to it. He finished ahead of third-place finisher Sam Walker of Vancouver’s Columbia River High School, by 14/100ths of a second.
At one point in the last lap, Sam Walker swam two one-hundredths of a second behind Calloway before the Jacks’ swimmer lived up to his billing as a back-half swimmer and pulled away a little bit.
The minuscule difference relegated Walker to ninth place overall. The top eight swimmers qualify for the championship finals.
This year, Calloway’s seventh-place finish at prelims guarantees not only a shot at the state title, but that he will return to Quincy with a medal around his neck.
“It feels really good to represent Quincy,” said Calloway, now in his third year at state, “and have another shot at these races.”.
Another young man who represented Quincy was Wyatt van der Merwe, a freshman who had qualified for state as a wildcard in the 500-meter freestyle.
Van der Merwe (pronounced van-der-MER-ry) finished in seventh place in his heat with a time of five minutes, 25.07 seconds and did not qualify for the second day of swimming in Federal Way.
Nevertheless, he impressed his coaches with a strong first season as well as a good effort in his last race.
After four laps, van der Merwe was in last place in his heat, but as a testament to his endurance, he came back to recapture seventh place and hung on to it for the remaining six laps.
“Just a phenomenal young man,” said Eastmont’s head coach Darcy Bruggman, who also coaches the Quincy swimmers and the Cashmere swimmers.
The 500-meter is one of the toughest events in high school swimming, so for a freshman to do it, says a lot about him.
“We love (his) tenacity,” Bruggman said.
Van der Merwe sounded satisfied with his first race at state.
“I felt very good, except in one of my turns, I almost missed the wall,” said van der Merwe, who would have been disqualified if he hadn’t touched the wall.
Seventh place in his heat feels pretty good, said van der Merwe, who finished 21st of 24 swimmers overall.
Competition resumes for Calloway on Saturday morning, with the 2A championship events set to start around 9:15 a.m. at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
“He can race anybody,” Bruggman said of Calloway. “Even when he was so tired in the last 100 (meters), he did not let (Walker) catch him, and gave it his all.”