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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

States a perfect capper for Kiloh


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Morgan Kiloh just wanted to make states. Considering no one in the county had done so the previous four seasons, that accomplishment seemed like enough.

So when he achieved it, qualifying 21st in Class 2A in the 200-yard freestyle, he was no longer worried about his performance.

"All the pressure was gone," Kiloh said. "That helped me reach as far as I did."

At the FHSAA Finals back in November, at Stuart's Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, the Springstead senior set a new personal best in prelims, 1:48.01, to place 16th and qualify for the consolation final.

That night, he came in fifth in that race and 13th overall with another personal record, this time posting a 1:47.03.

Not a bad way to cap a prep career, especially for someone who didn't come into high school with a bevy of club swimming experience.

For the second straight year, Kiloh was an easy choice for Hernando Today Boys Swimmer of the Year.

"It's a privilege. It's an honor," Kiloh said. "Honestly my whole goal was do the best I could. That really paid off and everything just followed.

"I'd say (the season) was ultimately all I could ask for. I couldn't have ended the season any better than going to states. "

Kiloh was truly the dominant male swimmer in the county. Out of eight individual events, he had the best time in sixth of them.

That not only included the 200 free, but the 200 IM (2:13.38), 100 butterfly (56.04), 100 free (53.18), 500 free (5:14.36) and 100 backstroke (1:00.70).

He was also a part of the county's best teams in all three relays.

"Me and (coach) Wayne (Withington), one of the things we decided to do was put me in every event and see how I'd do throughout the season," Kiloh said. "He had that ultimate plan from the start. I just listened to him and the results were there."

This season was a continuation of Kiloh's emergence as an elite local swimmer.

Though he's a four-time All-County selection and three-time regional qualifier, last year stood out when he paced the county in five events and became the first male from the county to reach a regional championship final since 2008, doing so in both the 200 free and 100 free.

He further strengthened his commitment to the sport, shifting his year-round swimming activities to Withington's club team, the Hernando County branch of the PVP Piranhas, over the summer.

"Having Wayne as a club coach and high school coach really helped us both to realize what our goals were," Kiloh said.

"As he matured, he tried harder, worked harder every day at practice. He had goals he wanted to set and I think he met them," Withington said. "He dropped a considerable amount of time. He also swam with me over the summer and that might have had a lot to do with."

No goal surpassed reaching states, but for a moment Kiloh thought he had fallen short.

He had finished fourth at regionals in the 200, notching a 1:48.74. Since only the top two finishers in individual races garnered automatic state berths, Kiloh had to wait to see if his time was good enough to net an at-large bid.

The day the state selection sheet was released, Kiloh had a few friends over his house. On his initial scan, he somehow missed his name on the list.

"I had all my friends look at it and they said 'You did make it.' After going over it 20 times, I realized I did make it," Kiloh said.

"You try to tell yourself you're fine, you're calm, but when the results came out it was a lot more stressful than I ever expected."

When he first joined the Eagles, he never would have anticipated having such an opportunity. When it finally arrived, he made it last just a bit longer.

"It felt great," Kiloh said of making the consolation final at states. "My coach loved it probably a lot more than I did. Being able to stay instead of leaving after a half a day was great."

The idea that his days of high school swimming have ended hasn't completely sunk in, Kiloh admitted. He still swims with the Piranhas almost daily.

"I want to keep pursuing it," Kiloh said. "I'm looking at a few colleges that offer swimming as well as academically."

Nova Southeastern University is high on his list. He's looking to earn a master's degree in business, possibly to get into the marketing field.

Meanwhile he'll keep on swimming, whether that means walking on to a college program or simply doing it on a recreational basis.

"It's something that keeps me in shape," Kiloh said. "Personally, I don't want to stop something when I know I have the potential to get so much better.

"I'm willing to put in the time it takes to get better. I just need the program and the opportunity."

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By the numbers: Morgan Kiloh

200-yard freestyle

Season-best time: 1:47.03*

Districts: 2nd (1:51.14)

Regionals: 4th (1:48.84)

States: 13th (1:47.03)

100-yard butterfly

Season-best time: 56.04*

Districts: 2nd (57.72)

Regionals: 8th (56.04)

200-yard IM

Season-best time: 2:13.38*

100-yard freestyle

Season-best time: 53.18*

500-yard freestyle

Season-best time: 5:14.36*

100-yard backstroke

Season-best time: 1:00.70*

* Denotes county's fastest time

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