Athens' Chen takes eighth at states
LEWISBURG - For years Frank Chen has been one of the best swimmers in the league and district.
Now, the Athens junior has proven he is also one of the best in the state, taking eighth place in 52.61 in the 100 fly.
After a time of 52.14 in the preliminaries, which won his heat and eclipsed his seed time of 53.38 by more than a second, Chen sat in sixth place going into the evening finals, guaranteeing himself of a state medal.
"It was not completely what I was hoping for," Chen said of his finals race. "I felt a little tired at the end. I have some work to do, I definitely have some work to do over the summer."
Knowing he was assured of a medal made things a little easier in the final.
"It took a lot of the pressure off," Chen said.
Racing against the best kids in the state in the final was a fun experience for the Athens junior.
"I like the final a lot," Chen said. "I like having more space with less people. Everyone here is legit. The atmosphere is great with all people who have worked just as hard as you to get here."
Chen said states is completely different from the rest of the season.
"It's different than when in swim in the regular season," he said. "In the regular season you might swim against people who have never swam before, here everyone is good."
And, as much of a step up as states is, the final is an even bigger step.
"It's probably the hardest level I have ever swam," Chen said. "The experience is great to be around swimmers with this kind of experience."
While earning a state medal is special, Chen is the first swimmer from Athens, Towanda or Sayre to medal since the 90s, he still wasn't fully satisfied.
"I really don't know what to say," Chen said of medaling. "I am so happy with my place and to medal. But, I wish my time could be about 1/10th faster."
For Chen earning a state medal is something he has been working for throughout his career.
"All the hard work, everything I have done, this is what I was thinking about," he said. "At the end, it all came down to this. This has been the goal."
For Chen, it is the first day of a busy week of state swimming as he will swim the 100 back today for the Wildcats.
While swimming at states two straight days makes you busy, Chen knows it could be much tougher than the schedule he has.
"It's a lot less stress than (Sayre's) Altan (Frantz), he had to go back-to-back," Chen said. "For me it's two different days, it's not that bad."
While being assured of one medal is nice, Chen hopes it carries over to another big day today.
"I am not 100% satisfied," Chen said. "It's a good feeling to have this, but I want to do more."
After finishing eighth this year, Chen is setting his sights even higher for the future.
"Absolutely, that's what I told myself right after the race," he said.