Cottonwood star swimmer Rhyan White ends prep career in gold-medal fashion

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Woods Cross High School's William Harris swims a time of 4:53.01 in the 500 yard freestyle at the Class 5A State Championships in Bountiful, Saturday, February 10, 2018.

Bountiful • After the photos were snapped for the best finishers in the Class 5A girls’ 100-yard backstroke, the top two swimmers stayed on the podium for a few more moments.

The final pictures of Cottonwood’s Rhyan White and Bountiful’s Elliot Howe represented the present and future of Class 5A in this event, if nothing else.

White is a senior who is going to swim at the University of Alabama.

Howe would have stood as a freshman state champion in the event if not for White.

But White still is around, and it was a Saturday send-off from high school swimming that one would have expected from the Colts veteran.

Her first individual competition saw White take first in the 100 butterfly. Then came her victory in the 100 backstroke — the seventh time in her career that she has won state in an individual event to go with three relay championships.

And it all started when White was a freshman back in 2015.

“She’s amazing,” Howe said about White. “I really look up to her. She’s so dedicated and she’s such an inspiration to be who I am now. I got to train with her for a little while, and it helped me a lot on how I can become better.

“I’m so proud of her.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cottonwood High School's Rhyan White swims the 100 yard backstroke in 53.55 at the Class 5A State Championships in Bountiful, Saturday, February 10, 2018.

Cottonwood, with a great deal of help from White, surged to an easy win in the girls’ team standings. The Colts’ margin of victory was 120 points over second-place Skyline.

The boys’ team champion was Brighton, which posted a 24.5-point win over runner-up Cottonwood.

White’s performances were almost all on the second day, although she got the Colts off to a good start by swimming the opening leg of Cottonwood’s victorious 200 medley relay Friday.

White’s entry into the butterfly competition Saturday was into a field that included not one but two defending state champions. And neither was White.

Her titles in 2017 came in the backstroke and individual medley.

This year’s butterfly field included defending 4A champion Bella White from Olympus and the reigning 5A champion, Viewmont’s M.J. Maile.

But Rhyan White, who stayed underwater at the start and at turns much longer than her competitors, started taking command at the halfway point. Her finishing time of 55.04 seconds was below the all-American consideration standard of 55.75.

It was almost 4 seconds faster than Bella White’s time of 58.76.

“I’ve been doing a lot of underwater training at practice, so that helps a lot,” Rhyan White said. “I also make sure I do a big exhale, which my age-group coach [Allan Jones] taught me awhile ago. I exhale right before I hit the wall, so you can breathe in every ounce of air you can get.”

The meet started and ended with Rhyan White. She swam the anchor leg for the Colts’ 400 freestyle relay, the last race of the event, which Cottonwood also won.

It was one last chance for Utah high school swim fans to see the small but dynamic swimmer in action.

“A lot of people say it’s really fun to watch me, which I appreciate,” she said. “They say I look like a dolphin under water, I guess.”

CLASS 4A DAY 2 STATE CHAMPIONS <br>BOYS <br>Team scores • 1. Brighton 287; 2. Cottonwood 253.5; 3. Skyline 207; 4. Springville 156; 5. Timpview 147.5. <br>100 butterfly • Jack Binder, Brighton, 51.13 <br>100 freestyle • Christian Simon, Cottonwood, 46.38 <br>500 freestyle • Mitchell Simmons, West, 4:43.06 <br>200 freestyle relay • Brighton 1:28.45 <br>100 backstroke • Cameron Green, Springville, 49.95 (5A state record) <br>100 breaststroke • Blayze Kimble, Cottonwood, 57.94 <br>400 freestyle relay • Cottonwood 3:13.30 <br>GIRLS <br>Team scores • 1. Cottonwood 320; 2. Skyline 200; 3. Timpview 167; 4. Corner Canyon 160.5; 5. Olympus 158. <br>100 butterfly • Rhyan White, Cottonwood, 55.04 <br>100 freestyle • Mariah Maile, Viewmont, 51.60 <br>500 freestyle • Makayla Cazier, Maple Mountain, 5:02.45 <br>200 freestyle relay • Viewmont 1:38.58 <br>100 backstroke • Rhyan White, Cottonwood, 53.55 <br>100 breaststroke • Emma Walker, Cottonwood, 1:07.53 <br>400 freestyle relay • Cottonwood 3:34.38