Jonathan Hegeberg’s entire high school swimming career boiled down to one climactic moment.
There Hegeberg was on the King County Aquatics Center’s swim deck, surrounded by family, his teammates and coach about to swim the final race of his career. One hundred yards of pool water stood between him and a breaststroke state championship.
Although Hegeberg had swam at state every year since he was a freshman, this was the first time he reached the A-Final. He’d never lost a breaststroke race all season except for the state prelims a day earlier when Hegeberg lost to Highline’s Tyler Goodspeed by two tenths of a second.
Now Hegeberg could atone.
Every senior athlete’s optimal final chapter involves exiting with a title, and the Storm captain did just that.
Having all the natural abilities he had, he was that natural swimmer. He was kind of the guy who people on sports teams build around. He’s one of the fastest swimmers we’ve had for a few years. Over his career he was a tremendous breaststroker, but he is able to swim any event.
Squalicum coach Randy Elsner on Jonathan Hegeberg
“First of all I was relieved,” said Hegeberg of his win. “There was so much resting on it. It was a really close race, too. I (finished) less than half a second in front of that guy.”
Hegeberg was neck-in-neck with Goodspeed, and despite making the critical error of glancing over at the Highline swimmer in the final few yards, Hegeberg beat him to the wall, winning a state championship and posting a new personal record time of 1 minute, 0.39 seconds.
Hegeberg has been a selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom Boys’ Swimmer of the Year. Sehome coach Don Helling, who led the Mariners to a third place Class 2A state finish, has been selected Coach of Year.
Hegeberg also swam a leg on the Storm’s state 200 medley relay team, which placed fourth with a time of 1:44.07.
“Having all the natural abilities he had, he was that natural swimmer,” Storm coach Randy Elsner said. “He was kind of the guy who people on sports teams build around. He’s one of the fastest swimmers we’ve had for a few years. Over his career he was a tremendous breaststroker, but he is able to swim any event.”
Versatility was one of Hegeberg’s hallmarks, Elsner said. The Squalicum coach could plug him in for nearly any event, and Hegeberg would thrive.
But breaststroke became his specialty, and it should come as no surprise Hegeberg gravitated toward the swim. His mom swam the breaststroke at Washington State University and his sister, Josephine Hegeberg, finished third in state in the event two years ago.
Hegeberg’s offseason work ensured his final season with Squalicum ended the way he wanted it to.
“Not giving up on the sport is the main thing and realizing that this is my last time to make a big effect,” said Hegeberg on what drove his improvement. “There was a lot of motivation. Seeing that I was seeded to win it, it pushed me.”
Hegeberg shaved eight seconds off his junior season’s best time in the breaststroke and held the best Class 2A time in the state nearly this entire spring.
Besides his work in the pool, Hegeberg was a tremendous team leader. A two-time captain, he was a freshman when Elsner took over heading coaching duties for Squalicum. Hegeberg evolved into a second coach of sorts and was paramount this season in the development of some of the younger swimmers.
Hegeberg wanted to thank all his teammates, especially the ones he swam with at state — Franz Allendorfer, Matt Lovell, Winter Gariss and Aidan Rowland — his friends and family that supported him throughout his career.
All-Whatcom County Athletes of the Year
The Bellingham Herald is proud to honor the student-athletes of the winter sports season for an 11th straight year. Here is a look back at the winners of the All-Whatcom County Boys’ Swimmer of the Year award:
2005-06: Colin Flynn, Sehome
2006-07: Colin Flynn, Sehome
2007-08: Colin Flynn, Sehome
2008-09: Austin Fish, Sehome
2009-10: Austin Fish, Sehome
2010-11: Austin Fish, Sehome
2011-12: Cole Avery, Sehome
2012-13: Patrick Gregory, Sehome
2013-14: Isaiah Grambo, Sehome
2014-15: Isaiah Grambo, Sehome
2015-16: Jonathan Hegeberg, Squalicum