Making a splash |

Making a splash

Seth Derrick wrestled with a pair of emotions on his drive home from the U.S. Senior National Swimming Championships at Stanford University late Saturday night:

Joy and pain.

On one hand, the former Nevada Union and University of California-Santa Barbara standout proved himself as one of the nation’s top sprinters when he earned a ticket – his first – to the star-studded event’s 50-meter freestyle competition.

On the other hand, his time of 23.83 seconds, which dropped him into 20th place overall and fifth out of eight in the “C” Final, was almost a quarter of a second slower than his qualifying mark.

“(I just) didn’t swim quite as fast as I would have liked Saturday. I didn’t feel sharp,” he added.

The 43-man field was broken up into several morning preliminaries, with the top 24 advancing to one of three finals that night, where the seeds were determined by preliminary times.

Derrick’s mark of 23.81 was .06 away from a spot in the top 16.

Randall Bal, a 1999 graduate of Bella Vista (Fair Oaks), won the overall title with a time of 22.75.

North Carolina State University’s Peter Ranstead took the “C” Final with a 23.78.


The 1998 NU grad was a year and a half away from his last college competition last May when he decided to make one last run at the Seniors.

Derrick had been working for the U.S. Forest Service as well as coaching for both the Grass Valley-based Penguins and Nevada Union when he pulled the trigger.

“I was pretty busy for a while, but when the high school season ended in May, I decided I was going to give it one more significant shot,” he said. “So I sat down and asked my parents if they’d be willing to help me out a little bit if I quit my job.”

His parents, Neil and Donna, stood by their son.

“My dad said probably the reason I was (so competitive) was because they pushed me so hard when I was little and they said they owed me the chance,” Derrick said.

He hit both the pool and weight room hard in preparation for a regional qualifier set to take place near Fresno in late July.

“I was nervous that it wasn’t enough time. But I guess it wasn’t because I did pretty well for myself.”

Derrick came in .19 under the Senior’s cut with a time of 23.60.

His life-long dream came true.

“I was actually quite a bit faster than I’d expected,” he said.

With the berth in the bag, Derrick had to hope the specific training regimen – or taper – he and coach Larry Gruver had designed specifically for the qualifier would keep another week.

To his dismay, it didn’t.

“My start was really slow in the prelims. When I came up I was pretty far behind. But I caught some guys, so it wasn’t a matter of speed. The fine-tuning just wasn’t there,” Derrick said. “I tried to get excited for the finals, (but couldn’t turn it around).”


Derrick’s immediate focus will be the California State University – Humboldt where to pursue a Master’s degree in biology, but he’s going to take a wait and see attitude about his future at the highest levels of competition.

“I don’t think I’ll ever quit the sport because I love it so much,” he said. “I’m take it one step at a time. I already have the cut for next year’s Senior’s. So, now I can focus my taper on that meet instead of qualifiers.”

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