Sports

CK’s Parker to remain a Cougar

Central Kitsap swimmer Seth Parker signs his letter of intent for Brigham Young University as friends and family look on. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Central Kitsap swimmer Seth Parker signs his letter of intent for Brigham Young University as friends and family look on.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

State champ freestyler will swim for BYU next year.

Things came together pretty quickly for Seth Parker.

Central Kitsap’s state champion swimmer figured he has what it takes to make it as a competitive swimmer collegiately. He just didn’t know how to get the ball rolling.

“Seth said to me, ‘Hey Mrs. Winger? How do you get recruited?’” CK activities director and ASB coordination Diane Winger said when Parker asked her in November. “So he brought in his stuff the next day and we went through it. He took that initiative and made himself an opportunity.”

That initiative paid off, as Parker inked his letter of intent Thursday to continue swimming for Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, a program that finished second in the Mountain West Conference this season.

“It was pretty speedy,” Parker said of the quick turnaround time. “I wasn’t very sure (how it worked) at all. I was like, ‘Oh, I need to get this on the road.’”

Exploring BYU and Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., Parker said both would have been a good fit. He enjoyed both his visits to the schools and both were offering beneficial scholarships.

But when BYU head coach Tim Powers and an assistant visited Parker at home, it helped seal the deal.

“Just the fact that he established personal contact with me was a big plus,” Parker said at Thursday’s signing at CKHS. “It was just a little more personal and warm.”

As a result, BYU is where Parker will take his talents come next fall. But that wasn’t the only plus. Parker, who wants to study dentistry in college, said BYU has a strong program for his academics as well as his athletics.

“There’s definitely a lot of pluses there,” he said. “It’s just a great environment. I’m just really excited.”

Surrounded by friends, family and coaches on Thursday, Parker thanked each for showing their support. After all, receiving a full ride thanks to both athletic and academic scholarships. Right now, Parker carries a 3.45 GPA.

“It’s really good,” Parker said of being recognized for both. “I’m really glad I had my parents and coaches behind me saying it’s not just about the pool. It’s about the classroom too.”

Those smarts became an equally strong asset in the water, as Parker won the 4A 100-yard freestyle title this winter while taking second in the breaststroke. He was fourth and second in the events respectively as a junior as well.

“He’s not just a swimmer,” CK coach Steve Lahaie. “He’s a smart guy. That makes it that much better.”

While Parker has progressed each year he’s been in the pool, he also began sharing the knowledge he’s gained, helping train young swimmers at the Olympic Aquatic Center. OAC senior coach Marilyn Grindrod, whose coached Parker for seven years, said that’s been fun to watch.

“He has influenced many of the youth swimmers,” Grindrod said. “It’s been really rewarding to see the giving back.”

Both Lahaie and Grindrod said Parker has the attributes to succeed at the collegiate level.

“It’s been fun watching him,” Grindrod said. “And seeing him have the faith in himself to go beyond the pain, the training. That takes guts. And he has that desire to succeed.”

While the work’s been hard, Parker said he’s been driven by the end result.

“It’s gonna be nice,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little kid. Seeing this dream come true, I can’t be too much more thankful.”

With the state title already making for a memorable senior year, Parker said the signing’s just made it better.

“For how it’s been this year, there was definitely no disappointment,” he said. “The state title was amazing. Being able to have the college opportunity, all those people backing me up.”

Now he’s excited for the next challenge.

“It’s a big end point, but where there’s a big end point, there’s also the start of a new chapter in life,” he said.

Lahaie agreed, saying the challenge will definitely be a big one, but one he’s sure Parker can rise to.

“It’s not an ending for him,” Lahaie said. “It’s a beginning for him. He’s going to jump up to where the competition is huge.”

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