Tigard's Whitehead steps up at state swim meet
Nathaniel Whitehead was smiling.
He was happy — very happy.
With good reason. After all, he stepped up and had maybe his best day in the pool at the exact right time.
Whitehead, a junior on the Tigard High School swim team, turned in a lifetime best mark in taking fourth place in the 100-yard backstroke event at the Class 6A state swimming championships, which concluded Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton.
"It means so much. I'm so happy with it," Whitehead said after receiving his fourth-place medal. "I just have to thank God, first of all, that's the only way I could do it. It's a big improvement from last year. I'm very happy with the time."
Last year as a sophomore, Whitehead, who attends Westside Christian High School, finished in ninth place in the 100 backstroke at the Class 6A state meet with a time of 55.17 seconds. On Saturday, Whitehead showed how much he's improved in a year's time, as he placed fourth in the 100 backstroke with a mark of 52.78, putting him just ahead of fifth-place Aaron Tran of Lakeridge, who edged Whitehead for the Three Rivers League district title a week earlier.
"It was a lifetime best," Whitehead said of his time in Saturday's state finals. "It's the second time I've ever gone 52 (seconds). I think this is all part of God's plan, for me personally, at least. I felt very relaxed before the race. I wasn't psyching myself out like last year. I had a good time with friends, and that distracted me for awhile."
As for the race itself, it's kind of a blur to Whitehead, but a fast blur.
"I don't remember it much, honestly," he said. "I don't know. It just felt really smooth. I had some good walls. There's always room for improvement, but I'm really happy with it."
Whitehead also earned a spot on the podium in the 200 individual medley. He placed eighth in that event in Saturday's finals with a time of 1:57.28, which was an improvement of his ninth-place state time of 1:59.08 from a year ago.
"It hurt a lot," Whitehead said of this year's race. "That one stressed me out a lot. But I had an improvement from last year, and I'm happy with that."
Whitehead is now anticipating even more improvement next year, in his senior season.
"I'm very much looking forward to next year," he said. "I'm very excited for it."
Tigard junior Jaden Nguyen also participated at the state championships. Nguyen took 11th place in Friday's preliminaries for the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:01.67.
The Tigard boys finished in 18th place in the team standings at the state meet with eight points. Jesuit won both the boys and girls Class 6A state team championships.
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