The plan was simple and pretty common.
Mid-December is a time for swimmers in Pennsylvania near the start of their high school seasons to prep for major dates on the club calendar, ones that can take training precedence for a week or so.
So Tom Keer had a goal. With an early-season rest for his son, Marple Newtown junior Dylan Keer, the first-year Tigers coach was hoping for a knock-on effect, a little extra life in Dylan’s muscles that would extend into a high-school meet the Tuesday after the big club weekend.
What the younger Keer produced last Tuesday was well beyond expectations.
Dylan Keer not only met his father’s goal of earning an automatic cut for the District One Championships in the 500 freestyle, but he scared his personal-best time in the event and set a Marple pool record of 4:49.93 in a dual meet with Strath Haven Dec. 16.
Or, as his father puts it:
“He just went crazy,” Tom said. “I was hoping for a 4:53, 4:54, but he went nuts.”
The time is within a second of Keer’s personal best. It’s drastically quicker than the 5:01.21 he posted in the first dual meet of the season Dec. 5, which was a districts consideration time. The time is well under the auto districts cut of 4:58.97. And it dashes the two-year-old mark set by Penncrest All-Delco Philip Nawn of 4:53.25.
“I was kind of surprised,” Dylan said. “I was happy because it was my best time basically. I just went up and raced.”
Keer’s time represents an interesting confluence of events and some propitious timing. The obvious is having a school meet fall just after the Speedo Holiday Classic at Franklin and Marshall University, which Keer attended with his Malvern Swimming Association team on the weekend. But the other coincidences run deeper.
The elder Keer is a Marple Newtown alum who moved from Florida, where he’d been coaching for two decades, to take the high school job. High school swimming in Florida, which Keer did as a freshman but not last year, is a fall sport, meaning that much of the training is geared toward having athletes’ performance peak right around this time of year. Having his training focused on a meet like the Holiday Classic, says the older Keer, is what “Dylan has done his entire life”
The hope was for Dylan to nab a few more time standards than just the 500 against Strath Haven, though he had to settle for a consideration time in the 200 free (1:50.22) that is within a whisker of the auto-cut line of 1:49.87.
It’s all been part of an adjustment for Dylan, which Tom sees as going well thanks to a supportive network at Marple Newtown that boasts a few quality swimmers. There are training differences to get accustomed to – for one, Dylan prefers longer swims up to the mile, ones absent from the constrained high school program and more difficult to accommodate without the boundless hours of outdoor training available in warmer climes – but swims like his 500 against Strath Haven show the acclimation process is working.