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GOING FOR GOLD: Anderson, Harty, Kilburn ready to state swim meet

George Whitley

By George Whitley
Feb. 16, 2017 at 8:40 p.m.

Layton Anderson of White Oak, Sydney Harty of Harmony, and Cole Kilburn of Pittsburg pose for a photo at the Longview ISD Aquatic Center. All three will compete in the UIL Swimming and Diving State Meet beginning today in Austin.

Three East Texas swimmers will be going for the gold this weekend at the UIL Swimming & Diving State Meet beginning today and running through Saturday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center in Austin.

For Sydney Harty and Layton Anderson, it's a return engagement to the state gathering, while Cole Kilburn is making his maiden voyage to Austin.

Harty, a sophomore from Harmony, will compete in the 500 freestyle. The young swimmer is excited about the opportunity to return to the state meet and believes she's a year wiser.

"I'm not as nervous I don't think this time around. But I feel like there is more pressure this year for me to do better," Harty admitted. "The 500 freestyle is my best race. I feel like I have a lot of stamina and the ability to hold a race pace longer than I can in other events."

Harty's top time of 5:46.22 places her 16th overall in the competing field of swimmers. Her expectations are realistic and center around being the best she can be that day.

"I'm just hoping to get my best time. I want to get closer to 5:40 and that's what I'm shooting for. I'm going to have to drop seconds off my individual hundred times. That's my goal," Harty said.

"I think with a year of experience under her belt, Sydney is a little more experienced on the big picture. We don't look at any one race or any one meet as the deciding factor," said swim coach Clark Wilson. "I know the competition is lightning fast. We're going down without any expectations. Times don't matter, It's all about racing."

Anderson is also making his way back to the state meet for a second time in as many swim seasons. The White Oak junior was part of the 200 IM last year as well as the 100 butterfly. This time around, Anderson is back for the 100 butterfly, but adds the 200 freestyle to his disciplines.

"The training has been different this year," explained Anderson. "We've trained as if state is going to be my main meet this year. I haven't shaved or tapered and so I'm expecting to be a lot faster at state than I was at regionals."

In swimming terms, tapering refers to the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition.

Last year's state experience was eye-opening for Anderson.

"There's a lot of fast people there. Being a newbie, I just sat back and watched, hoping I could get my time down. This year I'm trying to get on the medal stand. I want to be in top three," Anderson said.

In the 200 freestyle, Anderson's best time of 1:45.43 places him ninth in a field of 16 swimmers, while his 53.70 in the 100 butterfly ranks 14th among 16 entrants.

"The butterfly has been fickle with us this year," said Wilson, who is also Anderson's swim coach. "We're trying to bring it all together on a big stage. In the 100 butterfly, we're looking at fast hands out, fast hands in. Make sure he holds technique and I think we'll be in a good place."

Kilburn is a 16-year-old junior representing Pittsburg. He gave up his basketball pursuits last year to focus solely on swimming.

"Swimming is basically my life. I'll get up and eat and go to school. Then I go to swim and come home and go to sleep. I'm a pretty simple person," admits Kilburn, who will challenge in the 100 backstroke.

"I've swam competitively four or five years. But I just started taking it like super seriously this past year. I did really well for the limited amount of training I had. I made the decision I was going to quit all my other sports and just concentrate on swim. It's worked out because I dropped six seconds and I'm headed to state."

Kilburn's best clocking of 52.88 is good enough to place him 11th overall in the field of 16 swimmers.

(Follow George Whitley on Twitter: @GPigskinprof)

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