By JONAMAR JACINTO
Scott Tolman was spent.
After competing in four events in the Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Finals, he admittedly wasn’t sure if he’d have enough in the tank to compete with the state’s best a week later.
Much to his surprise — and delight — he had enough to cap his impressive junior year with another record-breaking effort in the inaugural CIF State Swimming Championships.
“The weekend before (the state meet) he said he was tired. He was ready for some rest,” Sierra coach Dave Breitenbucher said. “Then he goes out and swims his best times.”
It was an outstanding finish to what was the best season ever by a Sierra swimmer. Tolman is the Manteca Bulletin All-Area Boys Swimmer of the Year for a second straight season after padding his already-impressive résumé.
He’s part of seven school-record swims, including two relays. Tolman was the runner-up finisher in two events — 50-yard freestyle, 100 breaststroke — at the SJS Finals, and he improved his record times in both events at state.
At the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex, Tolman he eclipsed his own records in the 50 free (21.28) in the state preliminaries and 100 breast (56.08) in the consolation finals. He ended up winning his consolation heat in the breaststroke, and the time was the fifth fastest of the day. That would have been good enough for a top-six medal had he qualified for the finals.
It may have been his last chance at earning a medal at the state meet. Next year, he aspires to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials and will center his workout regimen on that, though he intends to make it back to state.
“I have no regrets,” Tolman said. “I went there for fun and the experience. I honestly wasn’t expecting to have better times from sections because we trained so hard for sections and I was a little sick.
“Overall it was a really cool experience. Most kids don’t even get to have that so it’s a privilege to be in that pool with all the best California swimmers.”
Tolman also owns Sierra’s records in the 200 free (1:47.93), 100 free (48.17) and 500 free (4:51.00). Last year he toppled the section’s frosh-soph breaststroke record in 57.23 and also won the 50 free.
But for all he has accomplished, Tolman is most proud of what he achieved with teammates John Buonauro, Trevor Fast and Zach Thomas this past season. The quartet set two meet records in the Valley Oak League Championships, tying Ripon in the 200 medley relay (1:40.55) before winning the 400 freestyle relay (3:18.39).
They weren’t done yet. In the SJS Finals the Timberwolves they placed eighth in both events while again shaving seconds off their previous best times: 1:39.03 in the 200 medley, and 3:15.29 in the 400 free.
“Most of my goals were for the relay events,” Tolman said. “We really wanted to get far into sections and we did pretty well. I was less concerned about what I’d do individually.
“I know those guys worked really hard to where they wanted to be and I was glad I got to spend another year with them, especially with one of them going off to college.”
Tolman has another year left of high school before heading to the college ranks himself, though he is still in wait mode as four-year programs have begun to express interest in his services. Until then, Breitenbucher and co-coach Robin Errecart are looking forward to another big year from Tolman and the Timberwolves. While Tolman’s talent sets him apart, Breitenbucher said he means much more to the team in other ways.
“We’re fortunate to have such versatility with a swimmer,” Breitenbucher said. “The records are nice, but what he adds as far as the dynamics of the team is something you can’t put a price on. Both Robin and I area just blessed to have that kind of talent and that kind of leadership.”