Eaton in solid position at state swimming

Michael Eaton is on the brink of history.

The St. Clairsville senior will return to the pool inside the Branin Natatorium in Canton this afternoon as the top seed in the 100 breaststroke as the chase for the state championship enters its final day.

“I’m right where I need to be,” Eaton said via text message. “There are a couple of things I can clean up for my race (Friday) to drop some (additional) time.”

Eaton entered the state semifinal as the second seed, trailing only defending state champion Jonathan Rutter of Cincinnati Wyoming with a qualifying time of 56.49.

Knowing he had a chance to drop time as he backed off his workouts during the days leading up to the state meet, Eaton delivered with a 56.27 that puts him two tenths of a second ahead of Rutter.

“I felt strong and should really peak (Friday),” Eaton said. “I just need to swim my race and enjoy the moment.”

Though the field is deep as all eight of the swimmers in the ‘A’ final broke the 59-second barrier, there’s a half second of separation between Eaton and the third-seed, Dover’s Frannie Brogan.

Rutter and Brogan were in the same heat during the semifinals, which clearly had Eaton’s attention.

“I was watching it like a hawk,” Eaton said.

Eaton is well aware that no Ohio OVAC member school has produced a state swimming champion, but he won’t let the pressure faze him.

“In the past, I have done very well in situations where the pressure is at it’s highest, so I think I will perform how I need to,” Eaton explained. “I can not worry about other swimmers.”

Eaton, who was fifth in last year’s 100 breast, should be warmed up because he swam his way into the ‘A’ final of the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.68.

Entering the state meet, Eaton, who was an at-large qualifier from the district, was seeded 14th. He dropped 39 hundredths of a second and is now seeded seventh as he pursues a state medal.

The top two seeds in the freestyle are well under the 47-second barrier.

“I went into the freestyle with nowhere near the concern that I had for the breaststroke, which I think really helped,” Eaton said. “I just went, swam my race and dropped time. Being in the ‘A’ final is a perk.”

In the free, Eaton posted splits of 23.34 and 24.34. His second 50 was more than a second faster than what he swam last week at the district meet.

“I really brought it home and felt strong,” Eaton said.

Eaton will spend much of today relaxing at his hotel, focusing on his two races.

“It’s going to be really bittersweet,” Eaton said. “But, at the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier and I am proud to be a Red Devil.”