Each week, Bishop England swimmer Matthew Adams spends countless hours in the pool, pushing himself to get better, striving to set personal bests and state records.
But the first thing Adams will tell you about swimming is it’s more a mental challenge than a physical one.
“You have to have your mind right,” said Adams, a state record-holder who will compete in four events Saturday at the High School League’s State Swimming Championships at the University of South Carolina Natatorium in Columbia. “You have to be mentally prepared because you know your body will hurt. But you have to keep pushing through the pain.”
Adams collected four gold medals and a state record last year in the state meet. He set the state record in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:41.27, and came close to another state standard when he swam a 51.92 in the 100-yard backstroke. He also was a member of the Bishops’ winning 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
He is looking forward to the opportunity to finish his prep career with more gold medals and perhaps another record. He said he might be better prepared to compete in the state championships this year.
“I was nervous,” Adams said, recalling his first race in the finals a year ago. “Going in, I knew I didn’t do well the year before. But you have to block it out. That’s where the mental aspect comes into play.”
Adams will compete in two relays, the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard freestyle. He is the favorite in both individual events.
The Bishops have the No. 1 seeded teams in the 200- and 400-yard freestyles.
“I am really excited about our team,” said Adams. “I’m really excited about our relay teams. We have some great swimmers. I think we can do it.”
Academic Magnet is the defending boys’ Class AAA state champ. The Raptors topped Bishop England 428-267 to capture their first state title last year.
The Raptors’ James Koval is the No. 1 seed in the 500-yard freestyle, while teammate Cooper Pitts is the favorite in the 100-yard breaststroke. Magnet’s 200-yard medley relay team holds the No. 1 seed.
The Wando boys are the two-time defending Class AAAA state champs. Jeremiah Bohon of Ashley Ridge is the only local swimmer to have the No. 1 seed in Class AAAA. He swam a qualifying time of 1:57.58 in the 200 IM.
In the girls’ competition, Hilton Head is the three-time defending Class AAA state champ. Hilton Head topped Greenville 498.5-305.5 to win its seventh state title in 2012.
Academic Magnet’s Elaine Zhou is the No. 1 seed in both the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke.
James Island has the No. 1 seeds in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
The Class AAAA girls’ meet will be Wando’s Megan Kingsley’s farewell at the high school level. The senior is arguably the top female swimmer in the brief 15 years that the sport has been sanctioned by the High School League. She is the only girl with two individual state records.
Kingsley owns the 200-yard individual medley record with a time of 2:00.99, and the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 54.03.
Wando is the defending state champion in Class AAAA.