Philomath senior Carrson Hirte saw his best time in the 100-yard backstroke on Thursday with a 58.94. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

In his final season with the Philomath High School swim program, senior Carrson Hirte has his sights set on a school record.

Back in 2014, Warriors standout Patrick Williamson broke Chase Celorie’s year-old school record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 58.55. Hirte swam a 59.53 in the team’s season-opening meet last week against Sisters and followed up Thursday with a 58.94.

“I’m 0.4 seconds off right now, so we’re super close,” Hirte said after Thursday’s home dual against Marist Catholic. “I think with maybe a couple more meets and a little bit more training, I can reach it.”

Hirte won the 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle (24.19 seconds) in his individual events and swam a leg on Philomath’s winning 200 freestyle relay, which also included Cameron McLennan, Kellen Houchin and Marshall Morrison.

Houchin had Philomath’s other two wins for the boys with first in the 100 butterfly (1:08.75) and 100 breaststroke (1:15.19). Marist won the dual 87-70 with six first-place finishes.

The Warriors’ Kellen Houchin won the 100 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke in his individual events. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

In the girls’ portion of the meet, Philomath defeated Marist 107-44 with four individual wins and two relay victories. Allison Neelands took first in the 200 freestyle (2:19.75) and 100 freestyle (1:03.12), Madison Juhl touched first in the 50 freestyle (32.00) and Kateri Pindell was the winner in the 100 breaststroke (1:33.59).

The girls’ victories in the relays featured Emma Holden, Juhl, Grace Bennett and Neelands in the 200 freestyle (2:11.47) and Juhl, Katherine Holden, Emma Holden and Neelands in the 400 freestyle (4:58.50), although they swam unopposed in the latter race.

Philomath’s Allison Neelands won both the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

For Hirte, this final go-round with the Warriors represents a long journey in the sport. He has participated in club swimming since a young age, starting out with the Philomath Dolphins youth program and then with the Corvallis Aquatic Team beginning in the sixth grade. He doesn’t anticipate swimming competitively past the conclusion of the USA Swimming season.

“That’s maybe like a couple of weeks after high school swimming ends,” Hirte said. “You get to go to a lot of different states and stuff and that seems like a lot of fun, so I want to go on the trips.”

Hirte swims year round with CAT and has competed in all events. Heading into this season with the Warriors, in addition to the 100 backstroke, he’s leaning toward a freestyle sprint in his individual events. Hirte also enjoys competing on PHS relays.

Philomath’s Madison Juhl easily won the 50-yard freestyle. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“I’m kinda just throwing whatever I feel like in there but I’m normally sticking with 100 back, at least for this season, just so I can get better at that and try to beat that record,” he said. “But for my second individual … maybe a 200 free, 50 free, maybe an IM.”

Hirte said it’s important to continue working on strokes and conditioning to perform at a top level in meets.

“If you don’t practice your stroke and you keep swimming and swimming, if your stroke is a little bit off, you’re not going to notice and it’ll get a little more off and a little more off,” he said. “So you always want to be practicing strokes.”

Philomath’s Kateri Pindell took first place in the 100 breaststroke. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Staying in good shape is just as important.

“If you stop conditioning and only practice strokes, then you get out of shape,” Hirte said. “It really depends on what you mainly swim and what kind of conditioning you do. For the club team, our coach does a lot of distance so I end up doing a lot of distance but for here, I end up doing a lot of sprints, so it’s a pretty good mix.”

Hirte said the conditioning part of the equation will increase in intensity as the season wears on.

“I think the conditioning will probably ramp up a little bit more as we get to the bigger meets,” Hirte said. “During winter break, I know we’re going to be doing a lot of sprint training here, so that’ll be pretty beneficial for my backstroke.”

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.