Fast freshman

Still not through with his freshman year, Renny Richmond has already made a splash at the collegiate level.

In his first season at Arizona, the former Maui Interscholastic League Swimmer of the Year is headed to the NCAA championships, scheduled for Thursday to March 29 at Austin, Texas.

“It’s great,” said the Seabury Hall graduate, who will be going as an alternate for the Wildcats and hopes to compete in the 200-yard freestyle relay. “I would’ve liked to have made it individually but I’m still really happy to be going for the relay. I’m just resting up. Getting ready to swim fast.”

At the Pac-12 championships earlier this month, Richmond swam on the third-place 200 free relay team.

“I’m the fourth-fastest 50 guy on the team so I should be on the 200 free relay,” Richmond said. “So I might swim once or I might swim four or five times as an alternate just depending on how other things go down.”

Richmond also recorded his fastest 50 free time, 19.87 seconds, at the Pac-12 meet, good for 14th place.

Rick DeMont, Richmond’s coach at Arizona, says the opportunity to travel to the NCAA championships will be valuable.

“Just for him to watch this meet and to get experience seeing it as a freshman, I mean that’s fantastic,” DeMont said. “There’s not a lot of freshmen going as fast as Renny right now so it’s great.”

Richmond placed 12th in the 100 butterfly at the Pac-12 meet, and was 20th in the 100 free.

“I’ve learned to really use this year as a learning year,” he said. “It’s just been a really great learning experience so far for me. I’ve already swam best times and have done more than I expected to coming in this year but I really feel like the biggest thing to take away from this year is that I’ve just learned a lot about the sport and about just collegiate swimming. I’ve learned just a ton from the older guys here and I’ve learned a lot more about how to approach the season to know next year what I need to do to get my goal times.”

Jeff Amlee, a senior on the 200 free relay team, recognizes Richmond’s impact as a freshman.

“I think he’s helped out a lot,” Amlee said. “As a swimmer, he works hard in practice. He’s always wanting to race people even if he’s tired.

“Being one of the few freshmen to actually make the NCAA team is good. Hopefully he can go on to score his own points at NCAAs.”

DeMont also believes Richmond adds something special to the team.

“He’s got a lot of heart and a lot of willpower and I think he’s doing real well,” the coach said.

“He adds a fresh, go-for-it attitude. He likes competition and he likes to race. As a coach I really love seeing that.”

Arizona, which won the 2008 national team title, is No. 12 in the NCAA rankings.

“They’re just a great group of guys and it just really makes it what it is for me,” Richmond said. “I mean, the swimming is great and all but I really do it for my team at the end of the day. It’s a total family. It’s more than a team.”

Richmond won six state gold medals in high school, tied for the most ever by an MIL boys athlete, and earned two junior national championships.

DeMont believes there’s the potential for even more.

“I see him as being an NCAA finalist and scoring possibly a win by the time he’s a senior if he stays on point,” DePont said.

Richmond, of course, hopes for exactly that.

“I’d definitely like to have the chance to win a few national titles,” he said. “Our team has a good chance this year to possibly win NCAAs but I’d definitely like to win some individual titles, national titles. That would be great.

“My goal has been to make the Olympic team but we’ll just see where that takes me. I’m taking it one step at a time right now.”