Parkway swimmer sets sights on state
By: Warren Mayes
Parkway West junior Tommy Christensen knows you have to work hard to improve in swimming.
The Longhorn is seeing his efforts pay off.
Christensen has qualified for the state meet in November in the 200 IM, 500 free, 100 fly and 100 free as well as being a part of all of the Parkway West relays that have qualified – the 200 medley relay, the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay.
His times are 4 minutes, 57.34 seconds in the 500 free, 2:06.07 in the 200 IM, 55.21 in the 100 fly and 51.09 in the 100 free.
Parkway West coach Allison Zeller said she is pleased with how well Christensen has done this fall.
“Tommy came into this high school season looking strong,” Zeller said. “He has been training with Parkway Swim Club all year and the hard work is paying off.”
Christensen has been swimming with the Parkway Swim Club since he was 7 years old.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Christensen said about the Parkway Swim Club. “I got a lot of experience through it. I’ve had good coaching and good training.
“Swimming is time consuming. But you have to work to get better at it. You have to keep working.”
During the Parkway West season, Christensen and his teammates practice every afternoon for two hours. He also works out before school for an hour each Tuesday and Thursday. There’s also a three-hour on Saturdays.
“I don’t mind the time,” Christensen said. “I like the competition, the people in swimming and the coaches, too. It’s fun for me.”
Zeller said Christensen is coachable and has leadership ability.
“Coming into the season, I knew that it was going to be important for Tommy to lead by example and so far he has done a great job,” Zeller said. “Although he is not an official captain, he is a strong leader for our squad.”
Christensen has been to state in each of his first two years. Last year, he swam the 100 fly at state and finished 21st and he placed 25th in the 200 free. In his freshman year, he was 26th in the 200 free and 22nd in the 100 fly at state.
This year, he wants to top those performances.
At state, a swimmer can compete in two events and two relays.
“It depends on how I’m swimming at the time on what I’ll do at state,” Christensen said. “My favorites are the 100 butterfly and the 200 freestyle. It depends on how I do in the rest of the season in those events as to what I’ll do at state.
“I’ll probably be in the 100 fly and 200 free or 500 free and the relays. I think I have room for improvement in the rest of the season.”
One thing Christensen has in his sights is breaking the school record of 4:43.09 in the 500 free.
“I have the potential to get the school record in the 500 free,” Christensen said. “That would mean a lot. It would substantiate all the hard work I’ve put into the sport. Records are hard to break.”
Zeller said she does not mind that he would like to break the record.
“A goal of his is to get the school record in the 500 free, which is possible as long as he keeps up the hard work at practice and stays focused on the big picture – state,” Zeller said.
Christensen is looking forward to the state meet.
“At state you bring together the best athletes from all the teams in the state,” Christensen said. “It’s much tighter competition. My goal is to be able to make finals at state in two of my events. My goal would be to make the top eight.”
Zeller said that is realistic.
“I expect him to make it back this year at the state meet and swim on Saturday,” Zeller said. “I know this is a goal of his as well.”
Zeller sees a bright future for Christensen.
“Tommy is a swimmer who will continue to train with Parkway Swim Club after our season is over and is planning on swimming in college,” Zeller said. “He will continue to get stronger and faster. I am excited to see what else he can accomplish during his high school career.”