After taking up diving as a freshman, Squalicum senior Rylan Korby had his coach come up to him before a meet at a pool that didnt have a diving board and ask him if he wanted to swim.
I said, OK, Korby said in a phone interview. Then he asked me what event? And I said, Butterfly has always looked kind of fun. Everyone told me I would regret it, but I went out and swam a district time.
In fact he did so well, that hes kept swimming the 100 butterfly even at pools where there is a diving board, competing and growing in both events.
Before this season, Rylan told me had two goals this year he wanted to win state in diving and he told me he wanted to qualify for state in the butterfly, Squalicum swim coach Randy Elsner said in a phone interview.
Korby, who has finished second to graduated Port Angeles diver Austin Fahrenholtz the past two years at the Class 2A State Championships, certainly will have a shot to take care of the first of those goals, as he has already qualified for state in diving by winning the Jan. 5 2A Northwest District diving competition with an 11-dive score of 307.85 points.
Korbys mark is the states second best in 2A so far this year, according to wisca.org, which lists Archbishop Murphys Steven Kane recording a 313.3 the same day at Kamiak.
Hes very aware of the other competitors in the state, and I know hes really competitive with that, Bellingham district dive coach Taylor Sundstrom said in a phone interview. We dont talk a whole lot about that on a daily basis. But winning a state title is definitely a goal hes set out to achieve, and hes working hard to do it.
And his other goal of making state in the butterfly?
Well, Korby keeps getting closer and closer. So far this year, he has a personal best time of 1 minute, 2.66 seconds on Jan. 3 against Lynden, Elsner said. The state-qualifying mark is 57.90 seconds, so hes still got his work cut out for him to qualify on time.
But Korby feels it is definitely something he can accomplish, and he would still have another shot to earn a spot with a top-three finish at next months 2A Northwest District meet.
Pretty much every time he swims the butterfly is his best time or pretty close to it, Elsner said. He just keeps getting better. And thats saying something, because he doesnt have a whole lot of time to practice.
Korbys quest to qualify for state in both events is unlike any other swimmers attempt to qualify in multiple events.
While Korby starts practice sessions doing dry land workouts with the rest of his Storm teammates, he generally heads for the diving board at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center when hes done, while his teammates jump in the competition pool to swim laps and perfect their strokes.
On Korbys light diving workout days, he will join them to swim some laps after he has completed his diving work, but at least two days a week he focuses solely on diving. Elsner estimated that he gets to work with Korby only two hours a week on average.
I think Im kind of blessed in swimming, said Korby, who started taking swim lessons age 3. Im always doing weights during the summer, and that helps me stay in shape, but diving is my main focus. Im just a blessed swimmer to be able to do it and do it pretty well without focusing on it a whole lot in practice. Diving is my main focus, and thats where I need to put in most of my work.
And work he does, as Korby said he knows he needs to make every dive as close to perfect as possible to give himself a shot to win a state title this year.
Ive asked him if he wants to swim more, and he, honestly, said no, Sundstrom said. Rylan knows diving is all about repetition and building those skills. Swimming is more about endurance. Rylans ultimate goal is to be a state champion in diving, and he needs to make some sacrifice to do that.
Fortunately for Korby, he doesnt have to make any difficult decisions on race day.
The two events are not contested at the same time, though the 100 butterfly is the first event after diving.
Its not terribly hard to go from diving to the butterfly, Korby said. Diving is more of an anaerobic sport. Im not breathing very hard after it. Its just a mental game. Im not fatigued at all. Im generally warmed up and ready to go.
Sometimes, though, my coach has had me swim the butterfly leg in the medley relay (the first event of a meet). Going from that is kind of difficult. I dont want to let my team down, but I dont want to get so tired that I cant dive either. It can put a huge strain on diving. Fortunately, its only 50 yards, and I have time to focus on getting my breathing back down.
If anybody understands the challenges that Korby goes through to do both events, its Sundstrom.
She did both while competing at Aberdeen from 2006-09.
Unlike Korby, though, she was a swimmer first and a diver second, as she used to compete in three swimming events generally the freestyle sprints and relays as well as diving.
And she did both well enough to earn trips to state, helping the Bobcats claim the 2008 Class 2A state title, before she gave up diving to focus solely on swimming for her senior year.
Its very tough to do both and do both well, Sundstrom said. Rylan is an extraordinary case. I think he is just a naturally gifted swimmer. Honestly, he doesnt need to practice swimming all that much. He puts all his time into diving, and thats what he really wants to excel at.
When I did it, I used to dive at 5:30 in the morning and then wed have swim practice after school. Rylan doesnt have that option. Its almost like hes getting off easy. I like to joke with him about that.
Korby does a good job of making it look easy, though, as he seemingly soars through the water with the same ease he does through the air.
Hes a tremendous athlete, Elsner said. You look at divers, the boys and girls that do both, and you have to be a natural athlete to do both. Diving takes a lot of core and lower body strength, along with the perfect mentality. Swimming the fly is more upper body and core strength. He uses every part of his body in a very demanding way, but he excels at it.
If all goes right, hell be able to show the rest of the state just how much he can excel at doing both in mid February.
I dont want to get too far ahead of myself, Korby said. I certainly hope I can win, but I dont want to get too confident, because thats when I make mistakes. Im going to try my best, and let whatever happens happen.