The Warren Harding senior ranks among the top 40 swimmers in the nation.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
LIBERTY -- As a 17-year-old senior-to-be at Warren Harding High School, Nathan King of Liberty has very little down time.
When he's not practicing or lifting, he's working.
It's life in the fast lane -- literally.
King holds Harding swim records in two events, and he's striving to better those times when the 2002-2003 state meet rolls around in late February.
Recently, based on his third-place finishes at the 2001-2002 state meet in Canton, King received notification of his all-America status from the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association.
Two NISCA certificates note his accomplishments: first-team status in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke.
King said that only the top 60 high school swimmers in the nation get the certificates. His backstroke time of 51:31 ranked him 35th nationally, while his 200 IM time of 1:53.41 was 37th-best.
The top 40 are considered all-America and 41st through 60 honorable mention.
King didn't receive such certificates following his sophomore year when he placed 13th (100 back) and 21st (200 IM).
Obviously, his goal as a senior is to win both events.
He thinks that's realistic because the champion and runner-up in both events at the state meet in Canton were seniors.
Just because he'll be the top returning finisher in those events in Ohio, King can't expect the others to roll over while he goes straight to the podium for his gold medal.
"I'll probably have to go faster to win those events this season. I'll probably need to be a second faster in the backstroke and two seconds faster in the IM," he said. "I just have to work harder for it and put more time into it and more technique-wise."
To that end, the 6-4, 160-pound King has been lifting, practicing in the pool once or twice a day and going to a job.
His morning may include a workout with the Penguins Swim Club, another session at the Logan Swim Club right after that, then lifting and another stint in the pool later in the day. In the evenings, King has a job as a lifeguard at Youngstown Country Club.
"All that gives me no time to do anything else," he said.
Logan participates in Youngstown Swim League meets, while the Penguins are affiliated with U.S.A. Swimming.
He lifts four times a week in the summer and five times a week during the school year, during strength conditioning classes.
King, who attended middle school in Liberty where he still lives, attends Harding, which has an open enrollment policy.
As a freshman, he qualified for the district meet, then made the state meet as a sophomore when he placed.
King estimates that Harding will have about 15 team members for the upcoming season, after having a squad of a dozen or so for 2001-2002.
The school team lost several seniors after the 2000-2001 season when 20 participated.
Cattoni new coach
Beginning this winter, King greets his third high school swim coach when the Raiders welcome a woman, Shannon Cattoni -- a 14-time all-American out of Clarion.
"I think she'll try to turn the program around and get it back where it used to be," he said.
A brother, Tyler, is going into his sophomore year at Harding.
Just like Nathan, Tyler qualified for the district meet his freshman year.
"We'll see what he does this season," the older brother said.
Nathan King, who has been swimming competitively since age 4, is the son of Randy and Lori King.
"My mom used to swim, so that's why we got into it," he said.
Nathan's other swimming siblings are Ryan (11 years) and Emily (10 years).
Nathan, who will also be on the Harding golf team for a fourth year, lists Penn State, Notre Dame, Maryland and Lehigh as his college choices.