FEDERAL WAY – Peninsula senior Caleb Riggs has worked for years, in both high school and club swimming, hoping to stand on top of the podium.
He got there on Saturday.
Riggs won the Class 3A 100-yard breaststroke and led the Peninsula Seahawks to a sixth-place team finish during the state swimming and diving championships at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
Riggs finished in 56.98 seconds to edge Bellevue’s Morgan Ciliv, who came in at 57.27.
“It feels awesome,” Riggs said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do forever. It feels good.”
Riggs jumped out to an early lead, but Ciliv gained some ground on the final leg to make it interesting.
“I knew he was right there,” Riggs said. “I could see him. I knew I just gotta push. Me and him, we’ve been going club, we go the same time every time, and I just know what he can do on the back half, and I knew I just had to push it.”
Peninsula head coach Craig Brown said a state championship has been a long time coming for Riggs.
“He’s worked really hard as a swimmer,” Brown said. “He has trained year around for four years to get to where he’s at right now. A lot of credit has to be given to Tacoma Swim Club, that’s where he trains year around. It was just fortunate we had Caleb swimming for us. It’s exciting.”
Riggs couldn’t think of a more fitting way to end his high school career.
“It’s meant everything,” he said. “It’s brought more fun to swimming. It’s been nice. It’s like a family. It’s awesome.”
Junior Paul Friedman finished second in the 1-meter diving competition with 381.60 points.
“I was actually really happy with how I did,” Friedman said. “I was expecting that Aaron Moss (Shorecrest) was going to beat me. Throughout the dive competition, it became more and more clear that I had a chance (at first place). It kind of drifted away as the meet went on, but that’s all right.”
Moss, a senior, did run away with the meet with 451.80 points. But Friedman assessed his performance by looking at his success rate.
“I look at it more of, ‘How many dives did I hit? How many dives did I do well?’ ” Friedman said. “I say I went 6-for-11 (Saturday) and (Friday). So, I don’t think that’s 100 percent acceptable, but I can attribute it to the meet and the pressure and all that. But, hopefully next year, I’ll do better and go 9-for-11 or 10-for-11.”
Friedman said he sees the top spot on the podium in his future.
“My approach is to just do what I’ve been doing — just keep training hard and keep going at it,” he said.
Peninsula also qualified for the finals in both its 200- and 400-freestyle relays, which finished sixth and eighth, respectively.
Brown was happy with the result.
“Any time you finish in the top 12, top 10, it’s a great finish,” he said. “We don’t have the numbers that Mercer Island has, or Lakeside, or Bellevue. They’ve got so many club swimmers. At this level, that’s what you need. Our divers dove really well. All of our swims were great swims.”
Mercer Island (337), Bellevue (282.5) and Lakeside of Seattle (233.5) ran away with the top three spots.
But the meet also provided a chance for some of Peninsula’s swimmers to get their first taste of the big meet.
“Brad Keller and Colvin (Bowen) swam on the relays,” Brown said. “This is the first time they’ve swam at state.
“We’re losing three solid guys this year in Travis (Brunson), Alex (Wenman) and Caleb (Riggs). But that’s the cycle of sports, the cycle of swimming.”