On a team filled with talented swimmers, Bryce Keblish emerged as Fairfield Prep’s most versatile performer.
Keblish won the State Open title in the 100-yard butterfly, set a Class LL record in the 200 individual medley (1:49.46) and placed first in the 200 freestyle at the Southern Connecticut Conference championship.
He also helped the Jesuits set the state record in the 200 freestyle relay (1:23.18), a feat the Prep team accomplished at the State Open. For his efforts, Keblish, a junior, has been selected as the 2014 Register All-Area Swimming Most Valuable Player.
Despite Keblish’s individual success this season, Jesuits coach Rich Hutchinson was most proud of Keblish’s performance during the 400 freestyle relay at the State Open.
“Of all the memorable swims this season, the one that may have been most impressive was his final one as the anchor of our 400 freestyle relay at the State Open,” Hutchinson said. “His 43.7 (seconds) split is the fastest ever in Connecticut high school swimming. As a coach, it is very gratifying to have one of your athletes have their best performance on a relay, when it matters most for the team.”
Prep finished second in that relay and overall to Greenwich. But it was still another memorable season for the Jesuits, who won their 10th straight SCC title and placed second in Class LL.
“I’m really most proud of how my team did,” Keblish said. “Ever since freshman year, when we won both LL and the Open meet, we kind of lost one or two key guys every year, and this year was probably the weakest out of my three. But we still finished first (in the SCC), we still set a state record, and we still put up some of the top times in the country. And we did it as a team, and I thought that was really awesome.”
In addition to his individual victories in Class LL and at the State Open, Keblish won the butterfly at the SCC meet and was second in Class LL and he placed second in the IM at the State Open. He was also a member of the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays in the SCC, and swam on both those relays that finished second in Class LL.
“I’m really proud of the fact that I set the Class LL record (in the IM),” Keblish said. “I was all-American in four events. I won an Open title for the first time, that was really cool, and I was a part of two awesome relays. It was a pretty good year.”
It’s been quite the career already for Keblish, who has been swimming since age 9. His mom, a swimmer in her youth, encouraged Keblish to participate in the sport.
“She wanted me to at least learn how to swim all four strokes properly, and at least learn how to swim,” Keblish said. “I think that’s obviously a very good life lesson for anybody.”
After the initial swimming lessons ended after six months, Keblish began to race–and win.
“I said, ‘Why not stick with it?’”, Keblish said. “I really didn’t know what the plan was, but it kind of became part of my life. I enjoyed it, and never really had any complaints about it.”
Keblish, who swims for the Westport Water Rats club team, was already a gifted swimmer when he arrived at Prep, but he has steadily progressed throughout his high school career.
“It is a testament to his talent and work ethic that he can continue to reach such high levels of performance,” Hutchinson said. “He sets lofty goals for himself, but continues to attain them. That is very difficult to do for any level of swimmer.”
After a successful junior season, Keblish has certainly improved his stock. Keblish said he’s been in touch with a few colleges but is still going through the recruiting process.
“It (a strong junior season) was extremely important,” Keblish said. “It completely brought in my range of schools and possibilities for the fall of 2015, so I’m really happy about that.”