Ex-NU great plunges into national spotlight
Seth Derrick’s biggest regret about his college swimming career was the way it ended.
Derrick, a 1998 Nevada Union graduate and former Sac-Joaquin Section standout freestyler was among the University of California-Santa Barbara’s top sprinters year-in, year-out, but fell short of the ultra-high standards he set for himself.
“College was rough. I never really swam as well as I’d hoped. I’d always have really good in-season times, and then at the conference meet I wouldn’t do so well,” said Derrick, who missed the cut for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50-meter freestyle by .18 of a second. “I placed in the top three in the 50-and 100 (freestyle) nearly every year, but I never won an event.”
“I never went quite as fast as I wanted to go,” he added.
Now Derrick, who all but retired from competitive swimming after his senior year in Gaucho colors, will get a chance to open a new chapter in the pool.
Derrick will square off with some of the world’s top sprinters when he jumps head first into the 50-meter freestyle final at the Senior National Championships at Stanford University’s Avery Aquatics Center Saturday.
The Senior Nationals, which has plenty of NCAA champions and Olympic Trials qualifiers among its competitors, began Tuesday and will run through Saturday.
Derrick earned a spot ” his first at this level ” in the championships thanks to a time 23.60 at a sectional qualifier in Clovis two weekends ago.
That mark’s good enough to give him the 13th seed.
“It was nice to get my nationals time. I’m pretty excited. There’s good competition there,’ Derrick said.
The top 24 of the 30 total competitors in Saturday morning’s prelims will advance to the finals.
Here’s a look at some of the big-time names Derrick will have to contend with:
– David Maitre ” The 24-year-old Frenchman, who took second in the 50m freestyle at the 2003/04 FINA Swimming World Cup in Stockholm, Sweden on Jan.14, posted a time of 22.49 to enter the meet into the meet as the No.1 seed.
– Randall Bal ” The 1999 Bella Vista High (Fair Oaks) product missed out on a berth on the 2000 Olympic team, but rebounded later in the year when he set the world record in the event.
A winner of multiple Gold Medals at the World Cup level, Bal returns to his alma mater as the second seed with a time of 23.10.
“I knew him in high school and he went to Stanford, so we raced
against each other a couple of times,” Derrick said. “When he went away to college, he became really fast.”
– Cullen Jones ” The North Carolina State University junior and
2004 Olympic Trials is seeded third thanks to a 23.15.
“I picked swimming as a sport because I got to compete against myself. The other guys are honestly just kinda bodies in the pool to help me do what I want to do,” Derrick said.
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