Provo • Snow Canyon’s Connor Newman just had won the first individual state title of career, and he stepped off the podium without a hint of a smile.
The medal was draped around his neck, proving his victory, but he was stoic and calm, despite succeeding, finally, in his last opportunity to win a title in his best event, the 200-yard freestyle.
“It’s pretty good for me,” said Newman when asked about the rush of winning a state title after finishing the race with a time of 1:48.32. “I don’t get too excited. Most of my friends know me as, like, the quiet person.”
Newman had finished fourth in the same event last year, and Friday represented his last chance to finally win the event. But whereas many swimmers dream their whole lives of winning a state title, Newman had not.
He began swimming just five years ago at the urging of his father, and winning a state title never has been as important to him as simply improving.
“I just tried to do my best and get better,” he said.
Newman led from the start of the race to the end, swimming to a lead just seconds into the race. But Cedar City’s Colby Clark kept the pressure on. He narrowed the gap after the final turn, but Newman had just enough to stave him off.
“I knew the whole time,” Newman said. “I was just trying to keep my pace good the whole way. ... It’s definitely fun to have to push yourself.”
When the race was over, Newman did not celebrate outwardly. He instead breathed deep before climbing out of the pool and preparing to take his turn at the top of the podium.
Despite his demeanor, Newman acknowledged that failing to win the race would have been a missed opportunity. He entered with the best seed time in the state by nearly four seconds and had established himself as the favorite.
Outwardly excited or not, Newman had accomplished what he’d set out to do.
“It’s a lot different than any other race or any other meet I’m in,” Newman said. “It’s my best race.”