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Eastside Catholic's Hallowell set to make noise at state swim meet
When Ethan Hallowell first splashed into a pool at 9 years old, he never envisioned where it would take him.
A future in basketball, baseball or golf all seemed within the realm of possibility at the time.
"The funny thing is, I really wasn't good until about 14 years old," he said. "I just liked swimming, I enjoyed doing it, but the times weren't there."
Oh, how quickly things have changed for Hallowell, who first gained interest by watching his older sister compete in a summer program.
Now, standing at a lean 6-foot-2 and 170-pounds, the 17-year-old Eastside Catholic junior is targeting his fifth and sixth 3A state titles at this weekend's Swimming and Diving Championships in Federal Way.
Hallowell's going for a three-peat in the 100 freestyle, and is searching for his first medal in the 200 freestyle. He competed in, and won, the 50 freestyle the past two years.
But Hallowell doesn't just have first-place finishes on his mind — he's thinking state records on Saturday. Specifically, he's eying records held by former Bremerton High swimmer and current U.S. Olympian, Nathan Adrian, along with former Newport High swimmer and Turkish Olympian, Ugur Taner.
"I'm definitely chasing a couple this year," Hallowell said. "We'll see what happens this weekend."
Hallowell's best times in the high school season — both All-American considerations — put him at 46.68 seconds in the 100 free, and 1 minute, 42.68 seconds in the 200 free. Taner's 100 free record (43.73) and Adrian's 200 free record (1:37.17) provide an obstacle, but Hallowell, who also competes for the Bellevue Swim Club, said he is within a half second of the 100 free record and just under a second off the 200 free record.
And, if there's one person who believes he can do it, it's Eastside Catholic head swim coach Rhonda Bunker.
"I feel honored and privileged to be able to work with him and watch him," she said. "Every time he gets in the water I'm in awe."
Athletic ability certainly are reasons for his success. Hallowell trains seven days a week — twice a day four times a week — and has worked with the U.S. National team over the last three years. He's trained alongside well-known Olympians like Michael Phelps and Margaret Hoelzer, admitting one day he wants to share the Olympic stage with them. Stanford, the University of Southern California, Michigan and the University of California-Berkley have all shown interest in Hallowell.
But it's not just his athletic ability that has Bunker believing he can reach his goals in the pool.
"Yeah, he's a phenomenal swimmer and he's got a gift, but that's not who he is," she said, highlighting his 3.7 GPA and constant work with Eastside Catholic's Special Education Options program.
"He's kind of quiet, and sometimes when you're kind of quiet people missread you," Bunker said. "I think it's really important that he's a good egg."
While Hallowell admittedly might be quiet, one thing is certain — he hopes to make some noise come Saturday's state finals.
"I think there's a lot of people who get to this level and they think this is as far as you're going to go," he said. "I think I have a lot more in the tank. I feel like I have a lot more to prove and I hope it's going to come out this weekend."
State swim meet
The 3A and 4A swim and dive finals, featuring athletes from Eastside Catholic, Eastlake, Issaquah and Skyline takes place Feb. 18-20 at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way. Swimming prelims are Friday and finals are Saturday.