CR swimmers eye podium in state meet

CR senior Ethan Herring was named the Henlopen Conference’s Outstanding Male Swimmer at the conference meet. Delaware State News file photos

DOVER — Ethan Herring’s high school swimming career wasn’t over yet.

But the finish line was definitely staring him the face.

“I think I’d always thought of it as, ‘Oh, I’ve got another season to go faster,’” said Herring. “But now that I know that I don’t have another season, it’s grind time. I have to go fast.”

The Caesar Rodney High senior didn’t just cross his fingers and hope for the best, though. He got serious about conditioning, putting on 10 pounds of muscle before the season started.

The result is that Herring was named the Henlopen Conference’s Outstanding Male Swimmer at the conference meet two weeks ago. And he’ll go into this week’s DIAA state championships with a chance to reach the podium as an individual for the first time his career.

The state meet gets underway with the boys’ preliminaries on Wednesday and the girls’ on Thursday. The events start at 6 p.m. at the University of Delaware’s Carpenter Sports Building pool in Newark.

The finals are then slated for Saturday, with the boys’ meet starting at 11 a.m. and the girls’ meet at 6 p.m.

The Riders’ Danielle Stewart (right) is hoping to reach the podium at this week’s state meet for the first time since she was a freshman.

Herring’s CR teammate, Danielle Stewart, will also have a chance to reach the podium as a top-three finisher in the girls’ meet. The two-time Henlopen Outstanding Swimmer made the podium twice as a freshman.

This time, however, Stewart will be trying to medal as a sprinter after switching over from distance events this winter.

CR coach Kyle Williamson said Herring looked like a different swimmer this season after his strength training.

“He just tears through the water like it’s not even in his way,” said Williamson. “And last year he was amazing. He set a team record last year. This year he’s setting conference records.”

Herring broke a 10-year-old Henlopen record in winning the 100-yard backstroke in 52.81 seconds. He also swam on the winning 200-yard medley relay (1:44.58) and took second in the 200 medley (53.02).

“I never consistently trained (in the weight room),” said Herring. “I would do it in spurts. It’s definitely helped.

“I’ve definitely become more of a sprinter because of it. I’ve gotten a lot more strength from it. I’m definitely faster.”

Actually, Herring’s goal is to go really, really fast some day. He’s working on getting an appointment to the Air Force Academy where he hopes to become a pilot.

But, for right now, Herring would settle for getting to the podium on Saturday. He’ll be competing in both the backstroke and butterfly.

He’s seeded second in backstroke and fourth in butterfly.

Coach Kyle Williamson said both CR swimmers have worked hard to put themselves in posi-tion to medal. Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder

“That’s been my goal all though high school,” said Herring, who reached the podium in states as part of a relay team two years ago. “I’ve always wanted to make the podium in something. To be able to do it twice my senior year would be awesome.

“There’s so many great swimmers up north. Down south we’re good in our own little area. But to be with the top guys up north, that would be an awesome experience.”

As a freshman, Stewart placed third in the state in both the 200 and 500-yard freestyle. Now a 5-foot-10 junior, Stewart decided to become more of a sprinter this season.

In the Henlopen Conference meet, she won the 100-yard freestyle in a meet-record 54.97 seconds. Stewart also took third in the 50-yard freestyle (25.33) while swimming a leg on both the winning 200-yard medley relay (1:57.38) and 400-yard freestyle relay (3:47.16) teams.

“Anybody can swim a 50 sprint,” said Williamson. “But not anybody can swim it like she does. So having there when we need her has been very helpful.

“She’s incredibly serious about doing well and pushing herself to be the best.”

The biggest difference in swimming shorter distances for Stewart is trying to make sure she gets off to a fast start.

“That’s definitely something I’m getting used to,” she said. “I was so used to building into a pace. Now it’s just go time — like ‘Three, two one, go.’

“It’s definitely a little different which I think makes it a little more exciting. … I’m ready to go fast.”

Like with just about any downstate swimmer, finishing in the top three at states still feels like an accomplishment. Stewart feels like she’s representing more than just herself.

“When somebody from the lower area of Delaware or a public school (does well), it’s something to be really proud of,” she said. “Not only are they up there for themselves (on the podium), they’re up there for all of us well.”