Athlete of Week: Bateson’s big weekend opens doors

mbriprides-ebateson (2)Myrtle Beach Riptides swimmer Eddie Bateson turned a few heads at last week’s South Carolina Short Course Championships, but no one was more surprised than Bateson himself.

Bateson swam to five team records and three qualifying times for the Senior Sectionals. But his biggest feat was posting three q-times in the Junior Nationals in the 100 freestyle (59.47), the 200 breaststroke (2:09.50) and the 400 individual medley (4:07.64).

“It was a big surprise to me because I went in thinking I wasn’t going to do well,” recalled Bateson, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his efforts. “I was really tired going in. I trained really hard the week before and I had a recovery day before the meet but I was still sore. It worked out better than I had hoped.”

In addition to his first-ever Junior National q-times, which will carry him to Texas this summer to compete against the best in the country, Bateson’s most impressive event may have been his record-setting time in the 1,000 freestyle, when he fought through the fatigue to finish strong in the grueling distance race. But it was his entire weekend of work that is making college coaches take notice of the Socastee High junior.

“Since achieving (NCSA) junior national qualifying times in the breaststroke events and the 400 IM, a few colleges are now taking an interest in Eddie,” said Riptides coach James Smith. “Our next meet will be at the Speedo Senior Sectional Championships in Greensboro (NC), where college recruiters will be on hand to watch swimmers.”

A college scholarship would be a lifelong dream come true for Bateson, who began swimming competitively at the age of 3 and has trained six days a week for most of his career. He swam through the doubts and put in the time in hopes that all his hard work pays off with a free ride to college.

“I used to feel forced to do it because my parents wanted me to, but since then I have grown up and realized that I have a gift in the sport and a chance to swim at the college level,” Bateson said. “This meet really opened some doors for me and I want to keep improving and try to get my chance.”

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