Coeur d’Alene High School swimmer Brad Kleinjans is the defending state champ in the 100 backstroke and is favored to win again at the state meet this weekend after breaking his own state record in the event at district.
For most sophomores in high school that might be accomplishment enough. Not for Kleinjans.
“I’m looking to break my record at state, and swim well enough to qualify for junior nationals,” Kleinjans said.
Lofty expectations placed upon himself haven’t led to disappointment yet.
“He’s very focused and goal-oriented,” said Coeur d’Alene coach Carolyn Magee. “He works very hard in practice to make sure that nothing gets in the way of him reaching his goals.”
Kleinjans is the leader of the four-man Vikings swimming team that, despite its small numbers, placed second at the district meet last weekend.
“Three of us are exceptionally fast and can carry our last swimmer in the relays,” Kleinjans said.
Without a full team, Kleinjans said it is difficult to win any team titles. More importantly, though, he said it would be a lot more fun to swim as a full team.
Magee is hoping the success of the United States team at the Olympics will get more people to compete.
“There’s no doubt about it that more kids are looking at swimming as something to get involved in,” she said.
Kleinjans looks up to the U.S. swimmers as role models and said he would like to make it to that level someday. He would like to make it to senior nationals, where he could compete against many top swimmers and land a college scholarship.
Kleinjans’ parents had a pool when he was growing up in Indiana, so he has been swimming for six years. Things haven’t changed much for him from the days that he swam alone in his pool at home. Most of the people who watch him race are still his friends and family.
“You have to want to push yourself since it’s a pretty individual sport,” he said. “If you want to succeed, you can do it.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: LAKE CITY GIRLS FAVORED The Lake City High School girls swimming team will be favored to win the State A-1 meet this weekend in Boise. Defending champion Boise was hit hard by graduation, and the Timberwolves have the deepest team in the state. “We’re shooting for the state championship,” Lake City/ Coeur d’Alene coach Carolyn Magee said. “The strength in the Boise area is split up, so we should be the deepest team at the tournament.” The T-Wolves are led by defending state 100 backstroke champion Megan Taggart and Brooke Sprague, who is favored to win the 50 and 100 freestyle. Help should come in the distance races from Sarah Thilo and Jennifer Patten. The team’s highest number of points, though, should come in the relays. “Our goal is to win every relay, and I think we can do it,” Magee said. The Lake City boys will be led by Ben Siegler, the defending state champion in the 200 free. The Coeur d’Alene boys will be led by Brad Kleinjans in the 100 backstroke. The Coeur d’Alene girls team’s best chances for placing at state should come from Marissa Harrison, Sarah Gray and Alex Blank.