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Clawson sets personal best at state

The high school swim season recently came to a close for Unicoi County High School senior Kaleb Clawson.
The lone member of the swim program made waves throughout the season, which ended during the annual Tennessee Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (TISCA) statewide high school meet on Friday, Feb. 12, at the Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville, where Clawson finished fourth in his heat for the 100-butterfly.
While the time didn’t qualify him for the finals, the Blue Devil earned a new personal best, cutting almost one minute off his qualifying time at 58.91. In his first full year of swimming, UCHS head coach Jonathan Kenney said he couldn’t be more proud of Clawson.
“It was a really good atmosphere at the meet with all the fans,” Kenney added. “Kaleb went against the best swimmers across the state and was able to earn a personal best. It just says a lot about his hard work during the summer, going from not being able to do the stroke to earning a personal best at the state competition. Even when he qualified earlier in the season for state he never stopped trying to better himself.”
Kaleb’s event featured more than 70 swimmers. Official times were not released prior to The Erwin Record’s press deadline. Clawson’s trip to the state meet was the first for the swim program since UCHS greenlit the team back in late 2014. UCHS graduate Katie Garrabrant was the previous athlete to represent the Valley Beautiful in the state meet.
Clawson caps off a stalwart career at the program, while double dipping with the Barracudas Swim Club out of Johnson City.
The future is bright for Clawson if the college swimming bug bites, Kenney added.
“I know if he were to get the opportunity, he would make the best of it,” he said. “Just from seeing the work he put in under a year, he could be a great pickup for a school.”
As far as the future of the UCHS swim program, Kenney added it isn’t too early for student athletes to sign-up and begin thinking about the 2016-2017 season.
“It is never too early to start the offseason for swimming,” Kenney said. “The progress Kaleb made was night and day from when he first started until now. I encourage any students who want to join up to get in contact with me and we’ll get started with offseason training for next year.”