CHEYENNE – The 500-yard freestyle is the longest event of high school swimming and diving meets.
Many fans use the 500 free as a time to stretch their legs, venture to the bathroom or hit up the concession stand. Many of the swimmers themselves aren’t fans of the 500 free because it requires them to both push and pace themselves.
Jared Price is not one of those swimmers.
The 500 free is the Cheyenne South junior’s favorite event.
“I’ve always been pretty good at that event, and I’ve almost always enjoyed it too,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just me finding a way to dig deep when I’m hurting or the pain I feel when I get out.
“I don’t know what it is, but I love the feeling.”
Price won the 500 freestyle at three different meets last week. He also won the 100-yard breaststroke at a meet Friday, and racked up another runner-up and third-place finish.
Those efforts earned Price Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
“Going 20 lengths of the pool without taking a break,” South coach Jason Garman said, “there’s always risk that you go out too fast and burn out. At the same time, you don’t want to go too slowly and let the guy get so far ahead that you can’t catch him.
“There’s definitely a balance you have to strike. It takes dedication to get it right."
Every race, whether it’s a sprint in the 50- to 100-yard range or anything beyond 200 meters is accompanied by its own kind of pain, Price said. Eventually, lungs start begging for more oxygen, muscles fatigue and lactic acid builds.
“After the first 250 yards of the 500, I want to stop and throw up, but you have to keep pushing, you have to race and you have to do what you’ve trained to do,” he said. “You have to embrace the pain in any race and be willing to push through it.”
Price has gotten good at embracing the pain.
As a sophomore, he won all but two 500 freestyle races during the regular season and then took home a conference championship. He finished fourth in the event at state.
“It was personally disappointing, but I was actually happy to see the seniors who finished ahead of me do well,” he said. “I remember going up to Grant Schoene from (Cheyenne) East after the race and he was super supportive of me, and I was super supportive of him.
“Swimming is more about rivalries than hatred. We want to beat each other, but we also respect each other. That’s the way it should be. I’m proud of what I did as a sophomore, and also happy for those other guys.”
Price was pushed by an underclassman at the Bruce Gresley Invitational on Saturday in Lander. Buffalo freshman Brogan Byram started the 500 at a pace Price wasn’t comfortable with, but was forced to keep if he wanted to stay within shouting distance.
Byram had already edged Price for second in the 200 freestyle. Price was happy for Byram because he personally knows how hard it is first underclassmen to succeed in the pool, but he also was motivated to not let Byram get the best of him again.
Price eventually pulled ahead of Byram in the 500.
“I’m used to controlling the pace of the race, and that kid controlled me,” Price said. “I had no choice but to swim his race. When he fell off, that was my only window to win the race. He took it out really fast, and I was really hurting at a point in the race that I shouldn’t have been.
“But he kept going and going and going. He controlled the first 300 or 400 of the race and did a good job of shutting me down, and I’m looking forward to racing him again.”
While Price excels in the 500, he can’t be pigeon-holed as a distance specialist. He ranks in the top 10 in the state in the 50 and 100 freestyles, 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. He is just outside the top 10 in 100 back. He is a strong all-around swimmer, Garman said.
“We have a lot of options for where we can use him,” the coach said. “He is stronger in distance, but he can sprint, too. Having him on the end of our relays has been awesome.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
– Nick Allen, boys swimming, Cheyenne Central: The senior won three events across two meets.
– Madison Blaney and Ky Buell, girls basketball, East: Blaney, a senior, averaged 17 points to help the Lady Thunderbirds to a pair of wins.
Buell, also a senior, averaged 18 points in those wins.
– Boe Clayson, wrestling, Burns-Pine Bluffs: The senior 170-pounder went 4-1 on the week with four pins. That included a 3-1 mark and runner-up finish at the Lander Invitational.
– Caydince Groth, indoor track and field, Cheyenne South: The junior won the 55- and 200-meter dashes at the Wyoming Open meet in Laramie. She also was on the Lady Bison 4x200 relay team that finished second.
– Xavier McCord, boys basketball, East: The senior averaged 23 points to help the Thunderbirds to wins over Laramie and Cheyenne South.
– Brady Storebo, boys basketball, Central: The junior forward averaged 20.5 points to help the Indians beat Cheyenne South and Laramie.
– Rylee Ward, girls basketball, Burns: The sophomore guard averaged 18.5 points as the Lady Broncs went 0-2 on the week.