Uhlin takes 14th in State 500 free

By on March 18, 2015
Warwick’s Keir Uhlin springs off the starting block in the State Triple-A boys 500 yard free B-finals at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium. Uhlin finished the grueling event in a lifetime best 4:39.37. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Warwick’s Keir Uhlin springs off the starting block in the State Triple-A boys 500 yard free B-finals at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium. Uhlin finished the grueling event in a lifetime best 4:39.37. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Given more time, Keir Uhlin could have climbed even a little bit higher.
As it was, the Warwick sophomore picked off Wilson Matt Guenter and Red Lion’s Dylan North in the final 200 yards last Saturday.
Pine-Richland’s Ryan Anderson was in his sights.
In the end, Uhlin placed sixth in the 500 freestyle B-finals &tstr; and 14th overall &tstr; in a lifetime best 4:39.37 at the State Triple-A Swimming Championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium. Anderson held off Uhlin by a whisker in 4:39.20 for 13th place.
“(Keir) swam the scripted race,” Warwick coach Mark Daum said. “He built into it. As you can see, he was running down kids at the end and he was close to the kid who got fifth in that (race).”
For his first appearance at the PIAA Meet, Uhlin had no complaints.
“I felt strong,” said Uhlin, who earned All-State Honorable Mention. “I worked all year for this, so it was good. I can say it makes me smile.”
Senior Jack Lance and junior Tim Griest were also making their inaugural trip to States. Lance, who dropped 10 seconds from his time in the 500 free at Districts, finished 26th in that event in 4:46.66 and 23rd in the 200 IM in 1:58.19.
“Here’s a kid who was a 4:57 and he dropped to 4:40 (at Districts),” Daum said. “Nobody in their right mind would have ever predicted that kid would have made States. So he was just happy to be here, and he gave it his all, but you’re going to have that bounce a little bit off of (the District time). He ended his high school career on a great note.”
Griest placed placed 30th in the 100 freestyle in 48.53 seconds.
“Tim was up a little bit, but his District time was so outstanding that you’re going to have that bounce,” Daum said.
Uhlin had an outstanding District meet of his own, but as he prepared for State debut, his nerves were “pretty high.’ But he persevered through the anxiety and placed 20th in Friday’s 200 free in 1:44.20.
“He was right in the ball park,” Daum said. “He had a good race.”
“I felt pretty good,” said Uhlin, who was seeded 20th in 1:43.50. “The first day is always the toughest in these kind of meets. I had nerves, I was anxious, I was doubting myself. I stayed 20th, which I was more than thrilled with. I just had to keep myself together, like, ‘I deserved to be here and I worked for it.’ It was hard in the beginning, but as the meet went on, it got better.”
It showed on Saturday.
Seeded 16th in the 500 free, Uhlin moved up two places in the prelims with a time of 4:41.22, sealing his spot in the B-finals.
There, he swam a smart race from the get-go, not burning up too much energy early while swimming splits of 24.9 and 27.5.
“Add the legs more and more as I went,” Uhlin said of his strategy, “breathe a lot in the beginning, stay strong, don’t use too much energy and just kinda get home. Just keep your mentality together of, ‘I can do this, stay in your own race,’ and in the end, it helps.”
Through 300 yards, Uhlin was eighth in 2:46.06 in lane eight, but right on the heels of Guenter.
“Mark told me to stay with the guys closest to me, stay with lane seven and just try to stick with him,” Uhlin recalled. “I did and did and I just felt better as the race went on, and I just killed it at the end.”
Indeed, he passed both Guenter and North in the next 100 yards. Down the stretch, Uhlin posted strong splits of 28.46 and 27.71 and was chasing down Anderson as the race concluded.
“His Diplomat Swim Club coaches have done a marvelous job of training him,” Daum said. “He was right there. He got a little off the track midway, but then he brought it back and he just kept getting stronger and stronger. It was a great swim, great experience for the first time here. He’s one that’s satisfied, but never content. He probably enjoyed it from the time he got out to the time he walked down (to speak with a reporter) and now he’s thinking, ‘OK, what’s next?’ That’s the nature of the beast.”
Uhlin had every reason to be satisfied in knowing he held his own against the State’s top swimmers.
“There were some big fish here, but it does feel good to place,” Uhlin said. “With these guys, you know their names, you hear them a lot, so to actually swim against them is a whole new kind of thing. To be able to say I went head to head with someone, it’s almost an honor.”

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