Less than a month after a somewhat disappointing postseason during his junior year of high school swimming, Garrett Crist had already turned the page toward this winter.
Strong swims at the Senior State club meet last March had Crist feeling pretty confident that he could come back for his final season at Center Grove and make a bigger imprint than he had as a sophomore or junior.
”I kind of thought that I could really shoot for at least top 16 at state,” Crist said.
He wound up significantly outperforming his expectations. Crist advanced to the championship final in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke at last month’s state meet and also led the Trojans to a pair of top-eight relay finishes.
In addition to his four state medals, Crist finishes his prep career as the Daily Journal’s Swimmer of the Year.
Crist was at his best during the Franklin Sectional, where he cruised to victory in both the IM (1:52.33) and the backstroke (49.97) while leading the Trojans to their first team sectional title since 2012. That performance meant even more given that it was not only the final go-around for him, but also for longtime Center Grove coach Jim Todd, who retired after the season.
“It meant a lot,” Crist said of ending Franklin’s nine-year sectional reign. “All four of my years I wanted to try to win a sectional,” Crist said. “Last year we were super close, so it kind of fired us up this year. And then when coach Todd announced that he was retiring, that’s when we really started to really want it.”
Though the sectional was a big deal for he and his Trojan teammates, Crist still managed to keep enough in the tank to swim his way into the top eight in both of his individual events during the state preliminaries — a rarity for any swimmer who hadn’t previously cracked the top 16.
He wound up eighth in both the 200 IM and the 100 back, while Center Grove’s medley and 200 freestyle relay teams both finished seventh. The Trojans placed eighth as a team, their third consecutive top-10 state finish.
“I definitely feel like our team, and me as a person, stepped up to the plate and really took on the season and tried to go for fast swims at the end of it,” Crist said.
Having helped return Center Grove to its previous position as a state power, Crist is moving on to an entirely new challenge. He’s part of the first-ever recruiting class at the University of Southern Indiana, where he’ll have the opportunity to lay the foundation for a program starting from scratch.
Crist, who plans to major in physical therapy, got a chance to meet some of his future teammates at the high school state meet, and he’s excited for the next four years.
“It’s going to be brand new as soon as I get there,” he said. “It’s going to be nice, especially with all of the new people that we’re going to meet, and to build our own traditions throughout the years.”
The 2022 All-County team for boys swimming and diving:
Callum Buchanan, Franklin senior: Mid-State Conference champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle … County and sectional runner-up in both events … Helped Grizzly Cubs put medley and 400 freestyle relay teams in the state meet, with the latter winning a sectional title.
Ben Clarkston, Center Grove senior: County and sectional champ in the 50 and 100 free … Tied for 11th in the 50 at state and placed 21st in the 100 … Swam on the Trojans’ medley and 200 freestyle relays, both of which won at sectional and placed seventh in the state … Committed to Ball State.
Garrett Crist, Center Grove senior: Capped off career with four state medals, placing eighth in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke while also helping Center Grove’s medley and 200 free relays to seventh-place showings … named top boys performer at county meet … Will swim at Southern Indiana.
Evan Dennis, Indian Creek junior: Earned an at-large state berth in the 100 butterfly, tying for 19th (51.41) … Western Indiana Conference champion in four different events, taking first in the 50 free and 100 fly while also leading the Braves’ two freestyle relays to victory.
Drake Keller, Franklin junior: Diver qualified for the state meet for a second consecutive year … Took first place at the county, Mid-State Conference and sectional meets with respective scores of 401.85, 355.90 and 383.00 … Placed fifth at Jasper Regional with a total of 416.55 points.
Conner Peckinpaugh, Greenwood senior: Won a sectional title in the 500 freestyle (4:47.74), earning a second straight state appearance … Swam a 4:46.53 at state to place 23rd … Runner-up in the 200 free at sectional, where he also swam two relays to help Woodmen place third overall.
Anthony Ries, Franklin senior: Won county and sectional championships in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, returning to the state meet in both events … Finished 18th in the state in the 200 free (1:43.18) and 24th in the fly (52.00), also swimming on Grizzly Cubs’ two qualifying relays.
Franco Chirinos, Franklin; Connor Conkin, Center Grove; Evan Hernandez, Center Grove; Harrison Hite, Center Grove; Vincent Howe, Center Grove; Isaac Layton, Franklin; Jacob Meinczinger, Franklin; Joe Sheets, Greenwood