Boys state swimming preview: A life aquatic is Phillip Reece's comfort zone

Capital High junior Phillip Reece aspires to be in some fast company at this weekend’s Class 2A state meet in Federal Way

Contributing writerFebruary 20, 2014 

It’s useful, in any endeavor, to be at ease in the chosen physical medium.

For a competitive swimmer, it’s the water.

Even if he wasn’t good at swimming fast in it, Capital High junior Phillip Reece might still seek out the wet stuff.

“Just being in the water is a really enjoyable experience,” Reece said.

This weekend, Reece hopes to feel at home in the fast water and fast company of the state Class 2A swimming championships at the King County Aquatic Complex in Federal Way.

Reece will swim the 100-yard butterfly – he finished seventh at state in the fly last season – and the 50 freestyle, plus legs on the 200- and 400-yard free relays.

Reece has been a leader for coach Dean Sawhill’s deep Cougars, who had 23 swimmers in last week’s District IV meet and won the team title. Capital was unbeaten in 2A Evergreen Conference meets this season.

At district, Reece swam personal bests in the 100 fly (55.6 seconds) and 50 free (23.1) in finishing second in both events.

Sawhill said Reece’s efficiency in the water – fewer strokes per lap, a team-wide emphasis – sets him apart.

“He has good body position and a good strong kick,” Sawhill said. “He is strong and very competitive.”

Reece and two other individual swimmers, plus three relay teams, will swim at state, which begins Friday with preliminaries

and concludes with finals Saturday.

Collin Mattson will compete in the 200 free and 500 free, and Bailey Young will swim the 100 backstroke.

Reece’s compadres in the 200 free relay will be Juatzern Yeager, Julian Setina and Mattson; in the 400 his quartet includes Yeager, Matson and Gus Brooks.

The Cougars’ medley relay team is made up of Ryan Knutsen, Gabe Martinez, Setina and Young.

The state meet will renew a rivalry between Reece and Hockinson’s Dylan Osborne, who bested Reece at district in both the fly and 50 free. The top 2A butterfly time heading to state belongs to Benjamin Scott of Steilacoom at 50.9.

When he’s not in the water, Reece likes to play the guitar and hang out with his family. His father, Andrew Reece, is an academic dean at The Evergreen State College, whose pool is the Cougars’ home water.

Phillip Reece carries a 3.875 GPA while taking advanced placement classes.

Sawhill has come to appreciate Reece the swimmer – “He has what coaches call a ‘feel for the water’ ” – and Reece the person.

“He’s a little off the wall,” the coach said. “He has a unique sense of humor.

”And he’s tied for the guy who takes the longest shower after practice.”

Reece said he’s looking forward to the heightened competitive atmosphere of the state meet.

“Adrenaline could be a good thing or a bad thing,” Reece said. “In my case I hope it’s a good thing.”

He’ll be in his comfort zone in Federal Way – in the water.

He says, “It’s a whole different world.”

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