WOODSTOCK — Jeremy Racey was a quick learner.
The Central senior tried out for the Falcons’ boys swim team as a freshman and had never swam competitively before. It didn’t take long for him to leave his mark on the swim team.
“It was rough at first,” Racey said of his freshman season. “But my (Central) coach Steve Shaffer was really working with me, and we were getting things down. And it sort of flowed and I ended up going to states my freshman year just because of him.”
Shaffer said he knew it would take some time for Racey to start showing progress, but within a month he had already made great strides.
“After the first two or four weeks of practice I could see that he’s very coachable,” Shaffer said. “When you tell him something he works on it until it’s accomplished.”
Racey and his Central teammates will be swimming in the Region 2B Championships at Wakefield Aquatic Center in Arlington at 4 p.m. today.
He has already qualified for the Class 2 State Championships in four events (100 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly). The state meet will be held in Richmond on Feb. 14.
Racey said a lot of his success as a freshman helped him for his future years.
As a sophomore, Racey made history as he broke the school record in the 100 backstroke.
“That felt really nice,” Racey said. “It was kind of amazing that I had advanced that far. It really showed me and others to keep working with each other and just to keep pushing ourselves with swimming.”
Racey is also part of the quartet that holds the school record in the 200 medley relay.
While the backstroke is the event Racey has always done best at, he said he enjoys all of the strokes and doesn’t have a favorite event or stroke.
His first two seasons Racey finished in the Top 16 at the state meet but came up short of making the event finals, which is top 8.
Last year he came in ninth, just three-hundredths of a second from eighth place.
Racey said even though it was tough coming up short of making the finals he was still proud of how he performed.
“I had just (swam) the 100 free, so I put a lot of effort into that one,” Racey said. “And it really showed me that even when you’re really tired, you can still have some of your best swims.”
Racey said he’s been happy with how he’s swimming this season. His top times in the 50 free (23.81), 100 free (52.33) and 100 back (1:01.48) are all the second-fastest times in the area.
In last week’s Bull Run District Championships, Racey finished third in the 100 free (52.33) and fifth in the 50 free (23.81).
Racey said his goal is to make Top 8 in as many events as possible at the state meet.
He said just being at states is an amazing feeling.
“There’s a lot of anxiety because if you miss your event or if you are just a little unsure or unsteady on the block, that can really cost you your race,” Racey said. “But the feeling of states – it’s an incredible feeling to make it there. And to know you worked hard enough to get there. And I couldn’t do it without any of the team or Steve (Shaffer).”
Shaffer said Racey is a good leader for the team and a good example for the other swimmers.
“He’s absolutely the team leader when it comes to practices,” Shaffer said. “He’s the fastest guy in the pool. He’s the hardest worker, and everybody else has to chase him. He’s the rabbit. So having someone who is willing to face the pain and train as hard as he does – it just raises the bar for everyone.”
Racey said he’s leaning toward swimming next year at Randolph-Macon College.
He still has a couple more swim meets left at Central, and Racey said he’s enjoyed swimming for the Falcons all four years and the bond that he has with his teammates is something he won’t forget.
“It’s a bond that can never be broken over all four years,” Racey said. “And then working with coach Steve (Shaffer) – even he gets in on the fun sometimes. It’s just every year has been so different, yet the same. There’s not a year I wish I could just go back to and restart.”