Riders’ dedicated Harfeld eyes success in state swim meet

DOVER — Alexander Harfeld can tell you the moment when the lightbulb switched on for him.

It was two weeks before last year’s DIAA swimming state meet.

That’s when the Caesar Rodney High junior said he realized that maybe he could really accomplish some things in this sport.

“I just saw the potential in it,” said Harfeld. “It really turned my whole life around — just my attitude toward school and athletics. I saw myself being somebody.”

Now Harfeld wants to show what his new-found dedication to swimming has done for him.

Caesar Rodney junior Alexander Harfeld wants to show what his new-found dedication to swimming has done for him. A year of some serious training, including 4:30 a.m. drives to Wilmington to work with a club team, has made him a contender at this week’s DIAA state meet. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

A year of some serious training, including 4:30 a.m. drives to Wilmington to work with a club team, has made him a contender at this week’s DIAA state meet.

After the girls’ meet began on Wednesday, the boys’ preliminaries start today at 6 p.m. at the University of Delaware’s Carpenter Sports Building pool. The finals are on Saturday, with the girls’ meet beginning at 11 a.m. and the boys’ meet at 6 p.m.

No tickets remain for any of the events.

Riders’ coach Maureen Van Orman said Harfeld has matured a great deal since his freshman year.

Riders’ coach Maureen Van Orman said Harfeld has matured a great deal since his freshman year. (Special to the Delaware State News (Gary Emeigh)

“This year he’s got his head on right,” she said before a practice at the Central Delaware YMCA. “He’s picking it up in school and he’s showing some leadership skills now. It’s been a nice transition. I think that’s part of maturing, too. There’s a big difference between being a 14-year-old freshman and a 17-year-old junior.

“He’ll do a practice up at Brandywine (YMCA), come here and practice with me and stay after my practice is over just to keep working on starts, or turns because he’s not happy with something. He’s definitely determined.”

In a sport dominated by New Castle County schools, Harfeld goes into the state meet with the second-fastest time this season in the 50-yard freestyle. His best time of 22.53 seconds trails only top-seeded Alec Hochrein of Cape Henlopen’s 22.23.

Harfeld is also a member of the CR 200-yard freestyle relay team that owns the second-fastest clocking in the state at 1:33.34. He’s joined on that team by Nick Hartmann, Tommy Pomatto and Andy Chen.

When he was younger, Harfeld said he was motivated by watching former CR state champion Aaron Green, who’s now a standout at Widener University. Harfeld’s goal is to keep competing in college, too.

“I’m just trying to do the best I can,” said Harfeld. “Just to see my name number two on that list (for the 50 freestyle) is amazing to me. That was my goal, to be top three. I never thought that would happen.

“I knew I was top eight for sure, but I didn’t know I was top two. I feel really good. I feel like it’s going to be a really close race.”

Harfeld, who also has the ninth-fastest time in the 100-yard freestyle, is pretty excited about the Riders’ future.

CR won the boys’ Henlopen Conference regular-season and meet titles this season with a lineup of mostly underclassmen. Harfeld knows the state meet is a big opportunity for the Riders to establish themselves.

“We’ve been putting in the work,” he said. “So this is just what we’ve been waiting for.“

“We kind of go in under the radar,” said Van Orman. “Everybody saw the same ‘psych’ sheets I did. The people upstate are probably like, ‘Who is this kid and where did he come from?’

“But he (Harfeld) has a good head. He doesn’t let the pressure get to him.”

Other downstate contenders

Besides the 50 freestyle, Cape’s Hochrein also has the fastest time in the 100-yard freestyle (49.24).

CR’s Hartmann is also a contender in that event with the fourth-best time (49.81). The top eight qualifiers in each event advance to the finals.

“I definitely want to make the finals,” said Hartmann, only a sophomore. “And I think top three for states would be so cool.

“The seed time doesn’t matter anymore because, no matter what, everyone is going to be swimming their best. The times are going to be so close.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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