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Kofa's Duran striving to win first state title in final season
Jonathan Duran sat on the lifeguard's elevated chair, overlooking everyone at Marcus Pool. It was almost as if he was sitting on his throne.
If nothing else, this Kofa senior enjoyed his surroundings.
“I was checking everyone out,” Duran said. “The view was nice, but I wish it wasn't drizzling.”
This was the scene after Duran won in the boys 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter free in a tri-meet between Gila Ridge, Kofa and Yuma High on Oct. 19.
All Duran was missing that day was a crown, scepter and cape.
For all anyone knows, Duran might get his coronation one day. But in order for that to happen, Duran will need to win the 50 free Saturday in the state swim meet at Kino Aquatics Center in Mesa.
“This year, I'm No. 1,” Duran said. “I haven't been beaten by anyone from all four (local) schools. But (state) is a different story. That's where all the competition is at.”
If past performance is any indication, Duran has a fighting chance.
Duran has won the 50 free in the regional swim meet each of the last three years. Two years ago at state, he placed fourth. However, he fell to 10th last year.
This season, Duran said he's been undefeated in the 50 free, going 26-0. Duran qualified for the state meet with a time of 22.07 seconds at regionals last week. But at the state preliminaries Thursday, his time dropped to 22.09.
“Jonathan is a very talented swimmer and if he uses his talents and abilities, he can be really tough to beat,” Kofa coach Amber Pacewic said.
The designation of the fastest swimmer in Arizona holds near and dear in Duran's heart, which he calls the No. 1 accomplishment any high school athlete can achieve. But winning that moniker now has never been more important.
Duran said he has invested the last seven years of his life, practices ranging from two-to-four hours each day and more than $8,000 to swimming. And of course, there's the fact that this is Duran's last chance to medal – let alone win – at state.
“You only have high school once in your life,” Duran said. “It's now or never. That's what it is.”
Standing in Duran's way are six swimmers who entered prelims with times of less than 22 seconds. When asked where his confidence was heading into state, Duran said on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, he was an eight.
If Duran wins though, no scale or elevated lifeguard chair can measure the joy he will feel.
“He'll be on top of the world if he wins and I know that,” Pacewic said.