David Crossland was familiar with all of the other swimmers in the boys 100-yard butterfly final at the DIAA Swimming and Diving Championships. He was sure it was going to take a great time to win.
“I knew that the butterfly was going to be a really good race,” the Tatnall junior said. “Knowing that it was going to be such good competition, it kind of pushed me. There’s no better way to try to get a record than having people you know pushing you.”
The 100 fly produced six first-team All-State swimmers, more than any other race. Crossland was the fastest of them all, breaking the state record by almost two seconds. He also lowered his own state record in the 100 backstroke and was named Delaware’s Boys Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive season.
“Winning a race against that level of competition means more than winning a race by 10 seconds,” Crossland said. “Winning against such a good field is more rewarding.”
Crossland knew he had a chance to do something special. The defending champion in both of his events, he had already lowered his times significantly at a club championship meet in December.
“Going into states, my best times were already better than the state records,” he said. “I just knew in order to get the records, all I had to do was go that fast again. So going into states, I definitely was confident.”
But he knew others had the potential to set a record, too. The next five finishers in the 100 fly – Salesianum’s Jack Portmann, Mount Sophia Academy’s Jacob Johnson, Delaware Military Academy’s Kyle Weston, Charter of Wilmington’s Connor Sweeney and Cape Henlopen’s Jack Weeks – all made the All-State first team.
But no one could keep pace with Crossland. His winning time of 47.27 seconds was almost two seconds faster than the old record of 49.08, set by Cliff Gordon of Salesianum in 2010.
“When I was little, Cliff Gordon was one of the fastest kids on [Delaware Swim Team],” Crossland said. “Just from the memories I had of how fast he used to go, I knew that record would be more difficult. That was the primary goal.”
Mission accomplished. And when Crossland saw his time, he was pleasantly surprised.
“Everything just kind of clicked in that race,” he said. “I didn’t expect to see a time that good. I thought it would be a good time, just not quite that fast.”
Crossland also won the 100 backstroke in 49.32 – almost a second lower than his record time of 50.28 from the previous year. But he was happiest about his butterfly performance, fueled by a raucous crowd at the University of Delaware’s Rawstrom Natatorium.
“Everybody gets excited for that, because the atmosphere at high school states is just unreal,” Crossland said. “It’s better than the atmosphere from any of the club meets. Every club swimmer in the state gets excited about high school states.”
Caesar Rodney senior Aaron Green also won two events, sweeping the 50 and 100 freestyles. Charter senior Henry Rogatz won the 200 freestyle, Salesianum senior Robbie Dickson took the 500 freestyle, Portman won the 200 individual medley, Sallies sophomore Matt Otto won the 100 breaststroke, and Newark junior Jack Kelly was the 1-meter diving champion.
Crossland concentrates on the butterfly and backstroke for Delaware Swim Team, but also does individual medley training and is starting to improve his freestyle stroke. He is keeping his options open on college recruiting, but has narrowed a list of 25-30 suitors down to less than 10.
“I think the biggest thing this year was dedication to training,” Crossland said. “Just going to practice every day, and when I’m at practice giving my all. I’m not saying I was slacking the last couple of years. It’s just that this year I was really honed in and focused on what I was doing.”
The result was a couple of state records.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ