Claremore High School junior swimmer Dylan McClain already has one state title to his credit.
He won the 100-yard backstroke at last year’s 5A State Swimming Championships.
This weekend, he is the favorite to win two more.
He’s got it figured out going in that he’s the man to beat after posting the best times in the state in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley (IM).
All he has to do is not mess it up.
“Yes, basically,” McClain said. “It will be a good race. The backstroke, I’m hoping to get close to the school record and breaking it next year. And in the IM, if I just do everything right, I should get a gold.”
Nobody has beaten him yet this season, at least in high school competition. He also competes in a swim club, where the competition is a little tougher.
Motivating McClain this year is his fourth-place finish in the IM at last year’s state meet.
“I wasn’t expecting to get first, but I was expecting to possibly get second, and I got fourth,” he said. “I was kind of hurt with that.”
So the soft-spoken blonde-haired torpedo began working on his game, so to speak.
“I’d say I’m a lot better swimmer,” McClain said. “I’ve been training more, I’ve been watching what I eat — just really taking better care of myself.”
He does much more than just swim lap after lap in his training regimen.
“We don’t do a lot of running,” he said. “We do what we call ‘dry land’ which is a bunch of push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups...that kind of thing.”
He has also worked on his IM, which includes four 50-yard races in each of the four swimming disciplines — backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. He has focused a lot on his weakest stroke — the breaststroke.
“I’ve never been a good breast-stroker,” McClain said. “We’ve really been working hard on it. I just can’t seem to be fast, if that makes sense. It’s not really the kick, it’s more the pull. I’m not pulling enough water.”
He pulled enough to easily win regionals and is the fastest in the state field by about three seconds. The same for the backstroke...a three-second favorite, which is like giving him a 10-yard head start.
“It is harder when everyone is chasing me,” he said. “When you’re the underdog, you want to get first place, but you just want to put everything out there and what happens, happens. When you want to get first and everyone is chasing you, that will push you even more.”
McClain will swim the IM before the backstroke. If he makes both finals, he will have about an hour in between finals races.
“I’m just hoping to throw down a good time in the top eight and Saturday just giving it my all,” he said.
McClain wants to re-live last year’s moment when the race officials put that gold medal around his neck. He has a chance to feel that two more times this Saturday at the Jenks Aquatic Center. He can’t wait.
“It felt amazing,” McClain said. “That was my first gold medal in high school. After my freshman year, I switched up my training and I went from being sixth and seventh to being first and fourth. That was real exciting for me.”