AIR FORCE ACADEMY — This season, Arapahoe High School’s Griffin Eiber only swam the 200-yard freestyle a few times.
However, if any of his Class 5A competitors thought he lost some speed — they were dead wrong.
Eiber, a junior, clocked a career-best 1:39.94-second time in prelims to grab the No. 1 seed Friday at the Class 5A swim and dive state championships at the Air Force Academy.
For good measure, Eiber also qualified No. 1 in the 100 free (45.37). Eiber also swam legs on Arapahaoe’s 200 and 400 relays teams. The Warriors were second in the 200 free (1:25.77), which qualified them No. 2, and No. 6 in the 400 (3:12.50). Eiber clocked a 20.96-second time in the first leg of the 200, which was quicker than any of the 50 freestyle competitors.
“I have never been under 1:40 before, so that 1:39 felt awesome,” the 6-foot, 145-pound Eiber said. “It felt good and it felt comfortable, and I was just relieved because it was a big goal for me to break 1:40. That was my first good 200 free in almost a year. It wasn’t that good in the spring, at least not where I wanted it to be. My plan for (Saturday) is to just up and race and the time will take care of itself.”
Diving prelims begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and the finals in all events start at 2 p.m. The top 16 placers Friday moved on to Saturday. The top eight finishers in the prelims in each event will swim Saturday in the championships finals. The remaining competitors will compete in the consolation finals.
Eiber clocked his previous personal-best time of 1:41.09 when he placed second in state in the 100 free to Cherry Creek senior Sam Coffman a year ago.
The performance of Eiber didn’t surprise longtime Arapahoe coach Michael Richmond.
“First of all, Griffin was happy to break 40, especially at this altitude (7,285 feet),” Richmond said. “He’s smooth in the water and he’s beautiful to watch. He does a lot of good things. He’s very aware. He’s savvy and he’s a great kid. He’s also very focused and he’s a great student-athlete. We’re glad he’s swimming well and glad he’s only a junior.”
George Farner, Arapahoe’s assistant coach, concurred with Richmond.
“We were pleased with the 1:39, but he thinks he can go faster than that, so we will see how it goes (Saturday),” Farner said. “He’s a great kid for our team. He’s a leader on the team and does what he needs to do. He’s also really in tune in what he needs in the way of training. He didn’t swim the 200 much this season because he wanted to sort of focus on it here at state.”
Eiber, 17, has already looked at some NCAA Division I schools to continue his swimming career, including in the Ivy League, but he hasn’t made any decisions yet.
“I would really like to swim in college, but I haven’t really thought about too many places yet,” said Eiber, who began swimming at age 4.
Eiber’s main concentration is the task at hand Saturday. Eiber also is one of the state’s top 50-freestyle swimmers, but he is only able to compete in two individual events at state and chose the 100 and 200 free.
“I’ve never won a state championship, and if I could win a state championship it would mean a lot,” Eiber said. “It would mean the hard work I’ve been putting in would’ve finally paid off. The 50, 100 and 200 free are tightly-knit for my top three events, and it is just kind of goes around (which one is best) as the season changes.”
Richmond knows state glory is clearly within Eiber’s reach.
“Potential (to win state) is a big word, but certainly when you place first you’re in the money,” Richmond said. “You have to come back and do it (Saturday), but he knows that and he will be good.”