By Brian O’Shea, Plateau Daily News
Highlands varsity swimmer Aniah McKim is the first high schooler in the school’s history to compete at the NCHSAA High School State Championships, and he did so as a freshman.
On Feb. 8, Highlands freshman Aniah McKim traveled to Cary, NC to be ready to be at the pool deck by 7:15 a.m. on Feb. 9 to compete in the 100 yard breaststroke.
Highlands Coach Steve Hott said McKim swam well, finishing 22nd of 24, behind mostly upper classmen, many of which were seniors.
“Aniah is the first high school swimmer of any grade to make it to the NCHSAA High School State Championships in at least 30 years, and I think ever,” said Hott. “I think that it’s excellent that Aniah qualified for the state championships, and it’s unusual for a freshman to do so.”
The state championship is a big event with about 300 1A/2A schools throughout the state competing.
“I was pretty nervous,” said McKim. “There were two polls and probably hundreds of other swimmers. But I’ve competed at larger events like that before so I was pretty prepared.”
McKim ended up swimming the 2nd fastest 100 breaststroke of his career at 1:09.46, but he said there’s room for improvement.
“I was a little disappointed, it wasn’t my best time,” he said. “But I think I did well and I’m happy with my performance. I plan to get better and get into the top 8 next year.”
The top 8 are the final 8 swimmers of 24 after 3 qualifying heats, with 8 swimmers competing in each heat. These 24 swimmers made it to the state championships by qualifying at 3 regional championships; West, Central, and East.
McKim said he didn’t run into major problems throughout the competition, but did note that the water at the championship was colder than he was used to, which was a good thing.
“Cold water is better than warm,” said McKim. “It motivates you to get out as fast as possible.”
Highlands varsity swim team is made up of Highlands School students grades 9-12.