By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — Clovis junior Miles Ware lopped almost two seconds off his qualifying time in 100-yard backstroke Friday in the preliminaries of the New Mexico state swimming and diving championships.
It wasn’t quite good enough as three swimmers passed his mark in the final heat and knocked Ware out of the top eight and into today’s consolation finals.
“It’s just one of those heartbreakers that comes with playing sports,” Ware said. “That was the best 100 back I’ve swam in my entire life. I was so close and, to be right there … I just missed it.”
It was that kind of day for Ware and the Clovis Wildcats at Albuquerque Academy.
Ware also had his personal best in the 100 freestyle, beating his qualifying time (51.84) with a race of 50.33 seconds. He’ll also be in the consolation final of that event, as will Clovis’ Amber Espinoza in the girls 100 butterfly.
Espinoza, like Ware, had her best time by going 1:04.38 in the 100 fly, beating her previous top mark of 1:04.97 and recording the 10th-fastest mark overall on the day.
“I’m glad I got my personal best, but I really wanted to make the top eight,” said Espinoza, who finished 15th in the same event a year ago. “There’s a lot more pressure and it’s a little more nerve-wracking for everyone.”
In general, times for participants were faster than the qualifying times they used to be eligible for the state meet.
“I knew up front that this was going to be an incredibly fast meet,” Clovis coach Vincent de Maio said. “We’ve never seen times like these consistently across the board. Last year, times that were top 10 — they’re not even getting in. Our boys 400 (freestyle) relay was six seconds faster and, yet, here we are.”
The boys 400 freestyle team of Nick de Maio, Josh Bussen, Landon Dalley and Ware was 18th overall with a time of 3:50.66. Both of the girls relay squads, in the 200 freestyle and 400-freestyle, were disqualified.
“It makes us realize that there’s no set bar that we have to attain,” coach de Maio said. “We have to strive to be much, much better.
“It certainly does show the level of swimming in New Mexico is great. We always knew that it was, but it’s just getting faster and faster.”