John Wojciechowski describes his 2008 season with one word: Unexpected.
“This is the year that took me by surprise,” the new state 100-yard butterfly record holder said. “I didn’t think I would swim nearly as fast as I did.”
The Phoenix Brophy junior had the kind of year any athlete would dream of. It started with records early and ended with a state title and the promise of even more to come.
With his four wins at the state 5A-I meet and a record-breaking year, the Scottsdale resident earned Tribune swimmer of the year honors.
“Wojo is very unassuming — you would never know he is one of the fastest flyers in the country,” his coach, Pat O’Neill, said. “He leads by example. Every set he puts out quality effort and raises the bar for his teammates.”
Wojciechowski was the third leg on Brophy’s 200 medley relay at the beginning of the state meet and led off the state record-setting 400 free relay effort at the end of another state championship performance for the Broncos.
In between, he won the 50 free in an All-America standard time of 20.80 but then had everyone eyeing the scoreboard in the 100 butterfly.
The promise of a state record — in reality he had already broken it — was evident going into the meet. The butterfly record coming into 2008 was 49.37 by Dan Ditoro of Scottsdale Chaparral, set eight years ago. However, in the first invitational of the year — the Chandler Wolves Classic on Sept. 20 — Wojciechowski clocked in at 49.17, lopping .82 of a second off his state time a year ago.
Wojciechowski dropped his time to 48.59 a week later at his home pool in the Brophy-Xavier Invitational.
By the state meet, Wojciechowski did get under 48 seconds, winning the state title in a sparkling 47.87, more than three seconds faster than anyone else in the final.
“I don’t even know what I am going to set (as a goal) for next year,” he said.
Although his future is in the butterfly, Wojciechowski more than holds his own in the other strokes. In addition to winning the 50 at the state meet, he led off the long freestyle relay with a leadoff leg in 44.87, which would have been first in the individual 100 free final that day.
“I was probably more excited after that than I was after the 100 fly,” he said of that final relay swim. “Because I wasn’t expecting it.”
Memorable moments from the 2008 season:
1A all-star: From the first invitational, the Chandler Wolves Classic, there were outstanding performances. Among the surprises was Hayden Thomas from 1A Tempe Prep, who outclassed the field of 5A swimmers in the 500 freestyle. He ended up winning the 1A-3A title in both distance events.
Not just Brophy: The 5A state meet was another great day for Brophy, but there were other special performances as well. Hamilton’s Carl Mickelson broke an 18-year-old state record in the preliminaries of the 100 breaststroke and then went out and won his third straight state title in the event. Corona del Sol’s Bryan Liu had improved all season in the 100 backstroke, and he took that event in an All-America time of 51.71.
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