All it takes is one poor movement, turn or judgement to shift a swim race in an athlete’s favor.
For Tarboro senior Cameron Anderson, his decision to jump out of the blocks slowly during the NCHSAA 1-A/2-A state 100 freestyle championship cost him a shot at another title. But to focus on a swimmer of Anderson’s caliber finishing fourth in a state championship event certainly would be nitpicking.
After all, Anderson has five gold medals to display in his family’s home after winning the 50 free state title for a second straight season.
He also has the newspaper clippings to show off his second consecutive Telegram All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year honor.
It seems strange that Anderson has to explain why he didn’t win the 100 state title rather than celebrating the fact that he was in contention for it.
“I just didn’t practice as hard during the summer, I guess,” Anderson said. “I didn’t go to practice as much as I did last year.”
A season ago, Anderson won both the 50 and 100 free state titles.
Going to practice isn’t a simple task for Anderson. To swim with a club team of high caliber, Anderson takes a 45-minute drive to Greenville during the offseason where those athletes are in the pool twice a day. To ask Anderson to take a pair of drives during his time off from school – remembering that he is a high school junior – would be to miss out on being a 16-year-old who enjoys fishing and hanging out with friends.
“He’s a teenager,” said Anderson’s father, Peter. “There’s always something more fun than swim practice on his mind. As an athlete, when you have won four or five, it’s almost like it’s automatic. I guess he proved to a lot of people he was human. We’ve watched him win, win, win.”
During the 100 free championship, Anderson fell behind the winner, Carrboro’s Will Macmillan, early during the first 50 yards. By the time Anderson kicked it into gear, it was too late. Peter Anderson noticed his son started too slowly, but both acknowledged that Macmillan swam a masterful race.
The day wasn’t a complete loss.
Anderson captured his fifth gold medal – he won two as a freshman at Rocky Mount Academy and two more with Tarboro last season – in the 50 free (21.66).
It was quite the accomplishment considering he did not win the regional championship in either event a week earlier.
“It was probably the best 50 I ever swam as far sas hitting the wall, good technique and a good finish,” Anderson said. “My 100 was a little different. I probably made some mistakes in that.”
Anderson can look back with a sense of accomplishment. It’s looking forward where the internal question marks stand out the most.
Although he is receiving mail from schools interested in his talent, Anderson is unsure if he wants to swim at the next level.
On one hand, he wants to do all the things that would put him in position – gain 10 pounds of muscle, practice more this summer and continue his weightlifting classes at Tarboro High School.
On the other hand, Anderson isn’t sure that he wants to go far away to school, and if the right program doesn’t make him an offer, he could let the opportunity pass.
He is still new to the process of being recruited, but he is a veteran at winning, and that cannot be changed by the outcome of one race this season.
“I didn’t lose any motivation, but practice is pretty much the main thing you need,” Anderson said. “You need the determination and the motor to keep going on.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org