BECKER, LAWSON WIN 10 GOLDS, BREAK THREE HAWAIIAN RECORDS AT STATES
By Rick Winters - West Hawaii Today
Two big island swimmers stole the show at the 2017 Hawaii Age Group Long Course Championships over the weekend.
Kona Aquatics’ Duke Becker and Maile Lawson glided by several state records, while picking up multiple gold medals to lead their club to a seventh place overall finish at the meet, which took place the the Kihei Aquatics Center on Maui.
Due their performances in the pool, both swimmers won the high point standout athlete award in their respective age groups. Becker competed in the boys 11-12 year old division, while Lawson swam in the girls 15-16 year old class.
“It was pretty cool to have two high point athletes on one team,” said Kona Aquatics head coach Eric Rhodes. “Between the two of them they had 10 gold medals and three Hawaiian records. It was kind of nuts because we spend a lot of time training in the ocean, not a pool. I was really thrilled.”
Duke Becker opened the 2017 meet with a bang, grabbing to state records early, which came in the 400-meter IM (5 minutes and 11.65 seconds) and the 200 breaststroke (2:44.21). However, he did not go out with a fizzle. Becker added three more individual gold medals, which came in the 50 breaststroke (34.04), 100 breaststroke (1:15.41) and the 200 IM (2:27.80).
“Duke was phenomenal, untouchable,” Rhodes said. “I knew coaching him six weeks ago he was going to do really well. He was doing collegiate workout sets that where high intensity and challenging.”
Becker was a team player as well, adding four more trips to the top of the podium in relay races, along with Nolan Morton and Aiden Ankrum. The trio, making up three-fourths of four winning relay teams, claiming medals in the 400 freestyle (4:29.66), 200 freestyle (2:02.20), 400 medley (5:05.75) and 200 medley (2:14.75).
Keaulana Haserot filled in the fourth role on the two freestyle relay wins, while Gared Sarubbi-Monell claimed two golds with the medley relays.
“They were our rag-tag group of bad news bears,” Rhodes said. “Everyone else showed up in fancy uniforms and these guys came in wearing surf shorts and swept all the relays they entered. I am really proud of them.”
As for Lawson, she found gold early too, but seemed to get faster as the meet progressed with her biggest victory coming on Sunday in the 200 breaststroke. Lawson claimed the gold with a time of 2:37.58, which broke a state age group record more than 30 years old. The previous best time was set in 1985 by Nadine Takai.
“She actually had an off-swim,” Rhodes said. “We are thrilled she got the record, but she probably could have went faster.”
Lawson entered the meet finally feeling healthy after dealing with back and shoulder issues.
“This was the first time in a long time that she was healthy and she was having a lot of fun,” Rhodes said. “We were able to get her ready to go.”
Lawson showed a lot of versatility in the water, also claiming golds in the 400 IM (5:12.35), 100 breaststroke (1:12.43), 100 butterfly (1:06.56) and 200 IM (2:25.99).
“What really surprised a lot of people at the meet was how she did in the 100 butterfly,” Rhodes said. “That is not her race but we knew she had it in her. She is versatile, has a great attitude, is fun to coach, smart and talented. As she continues to progress, she has a lot of great opportunities to swim in college.”