Ty Wells doesn’t need to look far for competition, and while it helps push him to faster times it has also been a roadblock toward greater rewards.
He has gone head-to-head with the likes of former Sierra standout Scott Tolman, Gregori brothers Christian and Andrew Britton and now Matt Trejo of Manteca — all Ripon Aquatics teammates. Wells, a three-time CIF State Championships qualifier, has another year to accomplish his biggest goals, but there is no denying all that he has already achieved.
This past spring, Wells led Ripon High to its first Valley Oak League boys swimming title one year after helping the water polo team capture its first Sac-Joaquin Section crown in water polo. He owns several school records and advanced to the second day of the state meet in two events, finishing with silver in one of them.
Add the Manteca Bulletin All-Area Boys Swimmer of the Year honor to the list.
“I think overall it was a lot better than my previous seasons,” Wells said. “I took it a different direction and tried to have a lot more fun but at the same time took it more serious when I needed to. What helped was making a lot of friends throughout the area. They’re the ones who are pushing me to get better in the long run.”
Wells looks up to 2016 graduates Christian Britton and Scott Tolman, now teammates at Cal Baptist. Tolman earned All-American status as a true freshman after competing in the NCAA Division II Championships 200-yard breaststroke finals. In 2016, Tolman and Wells placed second and fourth, respectively, in the state 100 breast finals.
“Scott and I would always go at it as kids,” Wells said. “He provided a big motivation for me the last few years.”
Wells is now the hunted of an up-and-comer from the area. Trejo made a splash in his freshman campaign for Manteca, and he challenged Wells in the 200-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly during a VOL dual meet.
“I have no problem saying that Matthew will one day be better than me,” Wells said. “He has the work ethic.”
Wells got the better of Trejo in the two events, but more importantly his Indians won 96-79 and gave themselves the inside track to their first league championship.
“It’s an amazing feeling being one of the first guys to be part of something that big,” Wells said.
Wells was only warming up. At the league meet, he took first in the 100 breast and 200 free and was part of the winning 200 free and 200 medley relays.
Then at the SJS Championships, he took third in the 100 fly and the 100 breast runner-up. Topping him in the 100 breast was Andrew Britton, the first of three postseason showdowns between the two friends and year-round teammates.
Wells got his revenge in the preliminaries, breaking his own program record in the 100 breast with a time of 54.87 seconds. That earned him the top seed for the finals and wound up being the fastest time in the event for the meet.
Wells also earned a Day 2 berth in the 100 fly for the first time with a new personal record 49.57-second time. He placed fourth in the consolation final (49.61) and 12th overall.
Britton got the last laugh, narrowly winning the 100 breast in 54.94 against Wells’ 55.18. Wells was happier for Britton than he was disappointed in himself for coming oh so close to capturing state gold.
“It was definitely exciting to get the top seed, but I knew Andrew was going to be ready for the finals,” Wells said. “We literally switched lanes for the second day, and I knew that I was going to be looking at him the whole time because he’s the guy I want to beat.
“I am overjoyed for him. I see him work and know he deserves the top spot. Even though I got second, I can hold over him the fact that I got the faster time (in the preliminaries).”
Both will be seniors next year, so their intertwining story isn’t over yet.
Wells owns school records in all three relay events, the 50 freestyle, 100 fly and 100 breast. He aims to go out with better times across the board and another VOL team championship, but above all he wants the section and state titles that have eluded him.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to continue swimming collegiately, preferably with a Pac-12 school.
“My dream has always been to swim with Stanford or Cal Berkeley,” Wells said.
He also has his eyes set on Arizona State. The Sun Devils are headed by Bob Bowman, the coach of Olympic star Michael Phelps.
“I’m keeping my options open,” Wells added.