Taylor Ruck is initially shy. She needs to get to know people before showing what Scottsdale Aquatics Swim Club coach Kevin Zacher calls “a goofy side.”
“Around her friends, she’s pretty animated,” he said.
In the pool, though, the 6-foot Scottsdale Chaparral sophomore is all business, dominating Arizona high school races like no girl since Misty Hyman at Phoenix Shadow Mountain in the mid-1990s.
After breaking her 200-freestyle state record she set her freshman year, Ruck has repeated as azcentral sports’ Girl Swimmer of the Year.
She won the 200 state title in 1 minute, 46.51 seconds, breaking the 1:46.76 she swam last year. She also defended her state title in the 500, winning in 4:45.17. Last year, she won in 4:52.11. She also swam on Chaparral’s 400 free relay team that set a state record.
“I just swam the meet to get the best times I could,” she said. “I thought it would be good to see where I’m at heading to Junior Nationals next month.”
Zacher said Ruck is progressing well toward winning at Junior Nationals like she did last year.
“She’s doing great,” he said. “She’s turning well. Junior Nationals on Dec. 8 is the main focus in the short term. High school was the stepping stone for that. She wasn’t tapered or shaved. She rested well and did really well.”
For the second year in a row, Ruck led Chaparral’s girls team to the Division I state championship with 359 points, 125 points more than runner-up Phoenix Desert Vista.
Ruck is on track to making the Canadian Olympic Swim Team for Rio de Janeiro next summer.
She was born in Canada and moved to Scottsdale as a small child.
She feels American, but is proud to represent Canada in the Olympics.
But first, she needs to take the smaller steps to get there.
“I don’t really think that far ahead,” she said. “I just take it a meet at a time. When that time comes, I hope to be ready.”
Zacher said that Ruck is on that path. Her two strongest events are the 100 and 200 freestyle.
“The head guy from Canadian swimming was here to check on her progress,” Zacher said. “She is considered one of their top swimmers, especially for the relays. She’s on a great track to making the team to Rio. She doesn’t really feel pressure, which is a good thing. The weight of expectation is not really on her. That’s a good thing. As long as she’s not worried about that, I think it’s a good thing. She understands things. She’s better at focusing at things in the near term. She’s got her mind on the Junior Nationals.
“Once we get into January, she’ll think about that.”
Chaparral coach Richie Krzyzanowski said that Ruck’s focus was on the high school team all season.
“She is the most elite swimmer I have seen, being as young as she is as a sophomore,” he said. “She compares to the likes of some of the elite swimmers coming out of Arizona and in the United States. Taylor, no matter what I asked her to do, she was up for the task, whether it was through her individual swims or on relays.
“There is no ceiling for her. She just loves swimming and loves being in a team atmosphere here at Chaparral. Taylor is Taylor every single day, and when she swims at any given meet you never know how fast, fast can be. She is and will be the best swimmer the state of Arizona has seen coming out of high school.”
All-Arizona Swimming and Diving Team
(Based on top times at the state championships)
200 medley relay: Chaparral (Emma Broome, Lauren Borst, Emma Segneri, Taylor Ruck), 1:44.62
200 freestyle: Taylor Ruck, Chaparral, 1:46.51 (state record)
200 individual medley: Savanna Carlson, Glendale Apollo, 2:02.94
50 freestyle: Claire Grover, Anthem Boulder Creek, 23.42
100 butterfly: Emma Broome, Chaparral, 55.07
100 freestyle: Allie Worrall, Phoenix Xavier Prep, 51.61
500 freestyle: Taylor Ruck, Chaparral, 4:45.17
200 freestyle relay: Chaparral (Gillian Rieth, Laren Borst, Emma Segneri, Gabriella Fagan), 1:36.99
100 backstroke: Emma Broome, Chaparral, 54.80
100 breaststroke: Alyson Yancy, Phoenix Pinnacle, 1:02.62
400 freestyle relay: Chaparral (Emma Broome, Gabriella Fagan, Gillian Rieth, Taylor Ruck), 3:26.47 (state record)
1-meter diving: Katie Deininger, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows
Reach Obert at email@example.com or 602-460-1710. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert. Listen to the Which Wich High School Football Preview Show every Friday from 6-7 p.m., on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 with Dan Manucci and Richard Obert.