Boys Swimmer of the Year
By Chris Bernhardt Jr. | Hernando TodayAt first, Morgan Kiloh conducted his business quietly, not drawing a tremendous amount of attention.
Published: December 28, 2012
Published: December 28, 2012
The Springstead junior is actually a three-time All-County selection, and has gone to regionals the past couple years.
But over his first two prep seasons with the Eagles, he filled more of a supporting role, both in and out of the pool.
"During my freshman year, I didn't go to Springstead. I was just the kid who came to a few practices," said Kiloh, who began attending Springstead as a sophomore, having previously been home-schooled. "As soon as I started high school, I started meeting people. Some of them knew who I was.
"It took time, but now I really enjoy it."
This season, he enjoyed a considerable amount of success – as much as any swimmer in the county. Thus, he was an easy choice as Hernando Today Boys Swimmer of the Year.
"It means a lot," Kiloh said. "I worked really hard this season. It didn't pay off as much as I wanted, not going to states. But I did the best I could and hopefully I'll do better next year."
A poll of the county's coaches didn't deliver a single dissenting vote in Kiloh's favor. Some had trouble recalling his name – perhaps a product of the rapid turnover in the coaching ranks – but they remembered his abilities.
He paced the county in the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.91), 100 fly (1:00.55), 100 free (50.14), 500 free (5:40.29) and 100 back (1:01.82).
Additionally, he was part of the county's fastest 200-free and 400-free relays, both of which advanced to regionals.
Individually, he made the Class 2A, Region II Meet in the 100 free (placing third, 50.64) and 200 free (fifth, 1:50.09).
"He did have a breakthrough year," Springstead head coach Wayne Withington said. "From last year to this year, he improved greatly. I think that had a lot to do with him swimming in the offseason.
"He had a rocky start in the beginning of the season, but in the end he really pulled it out."
The only other county swimmer of either gender to advance to a regional championship final was Girls Swimmer of the Year Monica Surrena, also of Springstead.
More impressive, no local male had gotten that far since 2008.
Yet missing out on the FHSAA Finals made for some bittersweet feelings. He was less than a second off in either race; his season-best 100 time recorded in the regional prelims would have been good enough to move on.
"It was a little disappointing," Kiloh said. "But I've got to get through it. With the training I've had, it'll be no problem next year. I want to do more than go to states. I want to place; I want to win."
He does, though, have a district championship to his credit, or at least part of one. He actually tied Wesley Chapel's John Thompson in the 100 free at the 2A-District 5 Meet, both of them posting a 50.71.
"It really felt great," Kiloh said. "It would have been nice to win it alone. But tying another swimmer was even better. That's just so odd and rare. It was pretty great."
Kiloh only got into swimming shortly before he reached high school age. He had dabbled in diving as a youngster in Largo and had an interest in water sports, so his parents opted to nudge him toward the pool.
"I'm built for it. I'm 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, I'm a lanky kid," Kiloh said. "I'm built for it, and everybody told me I should be good at it. I decided to give it my all and see where it takes me."
Combining his physique with some determination, he quickly established himself as one of the better competitors around, particularly in the backstroke. He has led the county in that event three straight years.
But he is no longer chained to a specialty stroke, evidenced by his all-around performance.
"This year (his strength) seemed to be freestyle," Withington said. "This year it was the 100 and 200, although he can swim any stroke he wanted to and still come out on top."
Though he has gained experience on the prep level, the key for Kiloh has been his efforts on the year-round club scene.
He spent last offseason training with the Sun Coast Swim Team out of Crystal River. He has since shifted to Tampa Bay Aquatics (TBAY) out of New Port Richey.
"It makes a world of difference," Kiloh said. "With taking off time in the summer, you lose technique, endurance and stamina."
The near future won't call for much down time. He wants to get fast enough to garner a college scholarship.
In between he'll try to enjoy the rest of his time at Springstead. He made the call to start attending public school because he felt he needed that social interaction.
"Sometimes it gets a little though with schoolwork and trying to get to practice," Kiloh said. "But it's really worth it.
"I want to go to states (next year) and have a great time with my team. I want to be part of a few relays. And try to bring my team as many wins as possible. Next year I want to get a perfect season pretty badly."
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