SIOUX CITY – Albert Pham has one final shot to make it to the state swim meet as an individual.
The North senior is a two-year state qualifier in relays, but will take his final chance at qualifying in an individual event during Saturday’s district meet in Fort Dodge.
Pham won two individual events and swam on two winning relays as the Metro team dominated the Missouri River Conference meet.
The Sioux City Journal’s Metro Athlete of the Week’s main event is the 100 breaststroke, an event he finished 25th following district competition a year ago and the top 24 qualify for state.
“That’s definitely motivated me a lot to push this year so I could make it to state,” said Pham. “Even though it was really unfortunate last year being the one barely failing to qualify for state it was really a fun experience competing on the relays and for the team.
“Cheering on my teammates that were competing in individual events, I just used that as motivation to continue to strive for the goal to be able to compete in an individual event myself.”
Pham swam 1:04.68 to win the MRAC title in the 100 breaststroke, just off his season best of 1:04.26.
Spartans sixth-year swim coach Eric Hoak expects Pham to swim around the 1:01 time during Saturday’s district meet thanks to a strenuous workout schedule followed by a week of taper workouts.
“We do what we call a taper workout, we’ll taper back the amount of yards that were doing, we allow more rest and focus more on sprinting and being fast in the water,” said Hoak. “For the last three months I have been breaking down their muscles and you can see that at the last couple of meets, we're not getting that PR.
“As we rest muscles start to heal, start to build back up, opportunity to be full throttle when they are ready to go ahead and race again.”
Pham will also compete in the 200 individual medley while swimming on Spartans’ 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay squads.
He won the 200 IM and was on both victorious relay units during the MRAC meet.
“The conference meet went well, I was able to win both my individual events,” said Pham. “I don’t think I dropped time, I am maintaining time right now, which is good, going into taper training for districts, so hopefully I can see some good drops and hopefully qualify for state.”
Pham, who spent two seasons on the team with his older brother Andrew, finally found his grove in the breaststroke when he got to the high school team after competing for the Sioux City Mariners swim club as a youth.
“I bounced around when I used to swim years ago,” said Pham. "I used to swim backstroke, but once I got to high school I started finding my grove with breaststroke.
“Going into the high school team joining the Spartans, coach Erik really helped me develop my niche with breaststroke.”
It’s been a different type of year for the Spartans, but still a very successful one, despite the graduation loss of 16 seniors a year ago. This year there are six seniors, but Pham is the only one of that group that has ever swam at state before.
“Last year, we lost quite a few good swimmers, this year change in chemistry, a lot of people really stepped up,” said Pham. “I thought that us as a team would be weaker given that we lost a lot of seniors, but a lot of returning swimmers really stepped up to the plate as a collective. So yeah, were still doing really good.
“It shows from our record and our swims this year that everyone comes together to make this season great.”
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