Christian Foster and his Lexington Christian Academy teammates plan to make the most of their time in the University of Louisville swimming pool.
The Pannell Swim Shop/KHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships get under way Thursday at U of L's Ralph Wright Natatorium, concluding Saturday.
Foster is the leader of an unusual story line on the part of the LCA boys.
Of five competitors, only two Eagles swim year-round with clubs.
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That's unusual in itself, but Foster's No. 5 seed in the 50-yard freestyle is almost unheard of for a part-timer.
In addition to the 50, the 17-year-old junior is seeded 23rd in the 100 freestyle. He also is on LCA's eighth-seeded 200 freestyle relay and ninth-seeded 200 medley relay.
The freestyle relay includes freshman Michael Binkauskas and junior Landon Hudson, who are LCA's two club swimmers, along with junior Andrew Hoagland.
The medley relay is made up of Hudson, Hoagland, Foster and junior Clark Strunk.
Hudson also qualified in the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle. Hoagland is in the 100 breaststroke.
Unlike most sports, where travel leagues and high school seasons are not allowed to overlap, year-round swimmers can compete simultaneously for school and club.
Non-clubbers Foster, Strunk and Hoagland have 1½ -hour practices Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and two-hour workouts Sundays.
"We're not in the pool as much as (club swimmers) are," Foster said. "But I guess it's enough. We're performing really well, and our coach is giving us good workouts."
According to LCA Coach Ryan Winders, club swimmers may be in the pool 7-10 times a week, with sessions as long as three hours.
Foster and friends may be well rested, but that's not necessarily good.
"They're going to get a whole day of rest before they can come back and do it again," Winders said. "If you ever grew up playing a sport, repetition and muscle memory is a big thing to it. These guys just don't get it, and they get a lot more rest than they probably should during the season. ... It's just kind of amazing to see what those guys can do. I knew they were going to swim well, I just didn't know that they were going to swim as well as they did at the regional."
Foster has been competing since he was in sixth grade.
However, high school swimming has been his means to stay in shape for track. He's a 51-second quarter-miler on land, and also runs the 100, 200 and on the 4-by-100 relay.
Foster's common theme in both sports is health.
"I have asthma, so they're both very good for developing breathing and they're very good for the heart," he said. "That's why I like doing both those sports, for health mainly.
"Then, I just like being in sports that are, overall, about your team; but they can also be individualistic."
In the pool, Foster surprised himself by clocking 22.02 seconds to win the regional title in the 50.
"I was very surprised with my success in that meet," he said. "I had no idea that I was going to be able to drop a whole second going into that meet."
He attributes the fast time to "just hard work. I have a good group of guys that I swim with at practice. They're very encouraging. I just build myself up around them."
Now, he has eyes set on Jonathan Borders' school-record 21.84, set in 2004. If that happens, he'll also eclipse the personal-best 22.00 set by older brother Chad.
Chad and Chase Foster each earned All-America honors while at LCA. Both swam on the 200 freestyle relay team that set a still-standing school record in 2003.
Christian is considering a switch to emphasize swimming over track, possibly going the full-time club route next year.
First there is the state meet to take care of, though.
"I would like to continue to be top five," he said, "and possibly place top three."
■ St. Xavier has a state-record 47 boys' team titles, including the last 23 in a row.
Sacred Heart, a 23-time team champion, has won the last two girls' titles.
Top-four girls' seeds from Lexington include: defending champion Rebecca Hamperian of Lafayette, No. 2 in 1-meter diving; and Paul Laurence Dunbar's fourth-seeded 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Top-four boys' seeds from Lexington include: Henry Clay senior Russ Bryant, third in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 200 individual medley; Dunbar's Trent Mattingly, fourth in the 100 breaststroke; and Dunbar's third-seeded 200 freestyle relay.