JohnThomas Larson from Minnesota Online, St. Paul at heat 3 of the 200 yard individual medley. (XAVIER WANG Star Tribune)
JohnThomas Larson didn’t just break a record in the 500-yard freestyle on Friday at the Class 2A swimming state meet. He touched the wall at 4 minutes, 17.75 seconds, nearly nine seconds under the previous state record of 4:26.47.
“I was hoping to be under 4:20,” said Larson, a Bloomington resident who attends classes via Minnesota Online High School. “I wasn’t feeling too good just because the 200 [individual medley] took a lot out of me, so I was just going to be happy if I was under 4:22, which is my best.”
“I’m very pumped for him tomorrow,” said his coach, Jeff Rodriguez.
Larson, swimming in his first state meet at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, finished almost 20 seconds ahead of the second swimmer in his heat. He also set the state record in the 200 IM (1:46.89). The previous record (1:47.71) was set in 2006.
Three other state records fell in Friday’s preliminaries.
The 6-5 senior, who also swims at Edina Swim Club, said online classes were the best option for him and allowed more time in the pool. He saw three of his club teammates break the 500 freestyle record and was inspired.
“I figured no matter how good I got at swimming, I always wanted to come back and take a shot at that record,” Larson said. “Hopefully my times will inspire the next batch of kids.”
He’s committed to swim with the University of Texas next year. He hopes to compete for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.
Schilling sets records
Minnetonka senior Sam Schilling broke the state record in the 200 freestyle (1:35.82), beating the previous mark (1:37.30) by nearly 1½ seconds. He also broke the 100 freestyle record (44.80) with a 44.02.
The other record set was in the 200 freestyle relay by two-time defending champs Eden Prairie. Joshua Withers, Nicholas Tullemans, Soren Dunn and Jordan Greenberg turned in a 1:23.50, breaking the Eagles’ state record of 1:23.90 from 2012.
Breck/Blake starts fast in 1A
Breck/Blake sophomore Spencer Pruett swam from the pack by 12 seconds in his 500 freestyle heat in the Class 1A preliminaries.
Pruett’s top time (4:42.32) was one of the pleasant surprises for coach Kris Rosenberg as his team finished with top times in four events, including the 200 individual medley, 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
“Some of the times were a lot faster than expected, but we like those kind of surprises,” Rosenberg said.
Breck/Blake is looking for its first state swimming and diving title since it went back-to-back in 2009-10. The team has finished second three years running, behind five-time defending champion St. Thomas Academy.
Pruett also was part of the 200 medley relay team that advanced (1:35.04) and will compete in Saturday’s finals in the 100 backstroke (53.17). His older brother Everett, a senior, will swim in the finals in the 200 freestyle (1:44.49). Everett just missed the final eight in the 100 freestyle, coming in ninth (48.02).
Their brother, Humphrey Pruett, a 2015 grad, set the state record in the 100 breaststroke two years ago with a 54.75 in the prelims.
“We’ve been really competitive pretty much forever,” Everett said. “It really has just helped us to push each other to go as fast as we can.”
Streak in trouble?
St. Thomas Academy coach John Barnes was left wondering what happened to his team’s intensity as it failed to register top times in any event. Three swimmers failed to make the top eight in the 200 IM.
“We swam well,” Barnes said. “We swam with no passion and no heart, which is very disturbing to me.”
Seven individuals advanced in various events and the Cadets advanced in the relays. Sophomore J.T. Howard “had a great swim,” Barnes said, with a 53.21 in the 100 backstroke. There were some nerves, but they will be solid Saturday if they don’t make mistakes, Barnes said.
In Class 2A diving preliminaries, Hastings junior Vova Tipler led after the semis with 345.60 points. In Class 1A, 2016 runner-up Jack Cuddy, a senior from Northfield, had the top score (308.05). Simley senior Ebenezer Ojo was second (305.65).