Nash Central's Norris a state swim champion


Sports Writer

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Nash Central has another state champion to add to its record book.

Lance Norris won the 200-yard freestyle on Saturday during the 1A/2A state championship swim meet at Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. The Bulldogs freshman also added a second-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle.

“It’s so much different. It’s a lot louder than any meet I’ve been at before,” said Norris, who has competed at junior Olympics and YMCA nationals meets. “You would think that junior or Y nationals was big, but this was different because the whole team is behind you. I didn’t expect it.”

Norris won the 200 free with a time of 1:41.5, about two seconds faster than the second-place finisher.

“I knew Lane 5 was going to drop time and I knew I had to pull away from him quickly,” Norris said. “I was worried what my time was going to be, but I was happy to get first place. He ended up with a 1:43 flat and he came back strong. I knew I could hold him off, I just had to get out fast.”

Later, Norris would finish second in the 500 free with a time of 4:32.2, which was a personal best by about a tenth of a second.

Newton-Conover senior and N.C. State commit Ross Dant won the race in 4:18.70. Dant dropped nine seconds from his seed time. It was announced at the meet that Dant’s finals time was the sixth fastest in the world this year.

Norris likely has a chance at winning the event the next three years, but ran into a top talent in the sport his first time out. Norris had a gameplan of sticking with Dant as long as his body would allow, then try to go for a best time, one he achieved by a small margin.

“The goal was I knew I was guaranteed second,” said Norris, who entered the race with the second-best seed time. “I tried to stay with Ross and he pulled away at about 150 or 200 yards. I tried to draft off him as long as I could, but he pulled away around the 200. He did some crazy splits.”

For Norris, the final portion of the race began to get away from him. He said his time went up higher than he would have liked, even though he was able to finish strong. Battling some respiratory congestion, Norris was pleased with his effort.

“The fourth 100 has always been a struggle,” he said. “I’m not sure if I should speed up after, but I think with a full rest and a taper, yeah, I could go a lot faster.”

Norris and Dant have crossed paths at various club swimming events, and the two spoke on Saturday about both their experiences competing in club events versus high school events, among other topics. Norris, when talking with the Telegram last year as a 14 year old, pointed to Dant as a local swimmer he looked up to.

“We had a long conversation about what it was like to swim YMCA and high school,” Norris said. “And we talked about training for small teams, what that is like, and a few more things.”

Overall, Norris’ freshman season ended with a state title and a runner-up finish. And for a swimmer who has only competed in club events throughout his life, he gained an appreciation for the high school season.

Looking back, it’s something he is looking forward to already.

“I remember it being fun and it sucks that it’s over,” Norris said. “I didn’t think high school would be that fun. But I’m already really excited for high school season again. It was really cool to finally stand up on the podium for awards, which is something they don’t do in club.

“And the 500 free, half the field was from YMCA, and the top four we held up symbols for the Y. It was a cool experience.”