MOUNT VERNON — Ian Richardson made his trip to the Division I State Swimming Championships a memorable one on Saturday morning. After qualifying for the finals in both of his events on Friday, Richardson, a senior at Mount Vernon, came out on fire at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Richardson improved on his fifth-place qualifying time in the 50-yard Freestyle to finish second overall. His time of 21.20 seconds was just six one-hundredths off the winning time, set by Brandon Williams of Loveland. The top five were separated by just .12 seconds.
“I’m happy with (my performance),” said Richardson. “I was giving it my best. A lot of people wouldn’t be happy with not getting first, but I’m definitely OK with getting second.”
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Mount Vernon coach Jeff Gottke of Richardson’s performance. “Second place in a meet that is probably in the top 5 in the country is nothing short of amazing. ... He was six one-hundredths away from first place, which is essentially a finger length.”
Williams’ time of 21.14 seconds was faster than his qualifying time on Friday, as was Richardson’s and four others. Only Grove City’s Gus Bailey and Wooster’s Alex McCord swam slower times.
“I think a lot of it can be attributed to the environment,” said Gottke. “There are so many fast swimmers there that you really have to be technically perfect in order to do well, especially in a race like the 50. There is no room for error. We really weren’t concerned about (Ian’s) time. In a championship meet, it is all about place.”
During the race, Richardson wasn’t sure of where he was in order of placers. He used that to push him to the finish line.
“I could see out of the corner of my eye a little bit, and at the turn I could see where I was,” said Richardson. “I could tell that I was not last, but I couldn’t see where I was. The guy that won was like three lanes away from me, and with all of the splashing and in the 50, you only breath twice at most, It was hard to see where I was. I thought I was ahead of a couple of the faster kids. Going into the finish, pretty much everyone had to look at the clock to see who won.”
Richardson followed up his 50 performance with an improvement in the 100-yard Freestyle. After qualifying 16th on Friday, he improved his finish on Saturday. Richardson finished 14th overall with a time of 47.50 seconds.
“(The 100) was fine; I’m just glad I didn’t end up 16th,” Richardson said. “Obviously, my focus was on the 50, so after that race was over I put a lot of effort into the 100. I just didn’t prepare for it the same was as I did the 50. It was nice to see improvement over where I was seeded.”
His performance in the 50 Free put Richardson on the podium, and that was pretty special in its own right.
“It was cool,” Richardson said. “I had never been to the state meet before, so I was trying to take a picture of it in my mind. I want to remember what it was like. It was cool. I was glad to be able to be up there. It meant a lot.”
“After he was done, he came up to me and said, ‘I don’t even care that I didn’t get first. I’m just so glad to be here, to do well and to get up on the podium,’” said Gottke. “I could tell he has no regrets. He knows he did a great thing.”
Richardson still has a few meets left in his YMCA swimming career before heading off to college in the fall. He has yet to pick his college of choice, but NCAA Division I Northwestern University and NCAA Division III champion Kenyon College are high on his list.