As far as Bulldog swimmer Preston Ring is concerned, speed kills.
Ring in February earned state titles in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyle races for Whitefish, capping off an undefeated season in the pool.
While he’s raced in other events, the sprints are his bread and butter, he says.
“I like how it’s short and you put everything out there right away and just see who can go the fastest,” he says. “Once I jump in the water, I’m always just thinking, ‘Just stay with the person in first,’ and if it’s a 50, that last 25 I just go for it. Or the last 50 in a 100, I just go for it.”
Ring has been swimming competitively for the last six years, starting with the Wave Ryders competitive club in Whitefish before moving south to swim for the Kalispell Aquatic Team at the Summit. As a junior at Whitefish High School, he’s been swimming for the Bulldogs for the last three seasons.
Last season he raced in shorter sprints, like the 50 and 100 freestyle events he won at state, along with 200-yard and 500-yard races from time to time.
Even though the high school swim season is finished, Ring is still in the pool.
Monday through Friday, he’s at the Summit in Kalispell after school, swimming for a couple hours every day and competing in various state and regional meets.
This weekend, he’ll head to Seattle for the Senior Sectionals, where he’ll compete against the top swimmers from across the western United States.
“You have to qualify to go to that meet and everyone competes there. It’s a really intense meet,” he says. “There’s really fast people there.”
Swimming hard in club competition has only pushed his high school racing, where Ring stands out as a top swimmer in the state.
“I have a lot more competition in club, a lot more swimmers to compete against. With high school it’s almost me competing against myself,” he says. “After the first couple meets, when I was winning all my races, my motivation for the rest of the season was to stay undefeated and win all my races.”
In total, Ring won 12 races last season. In the previous season he finished fourth in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 200 freestyle.
As a team, the boys team finished fifth overall at state, which Ring attributes mostly to small numbers.
“The only problem for us is our size,” he says. “At state we only had to race against Class A, and pretty much our only school we had to worry about was Billings Central, because they have such a large team. So we couldn’t fill in all the relays and stuff.”
Looking ahead to next season, Ring says he’d like to keep the ball rolling in terms of his success in the pool.
As a team, he also wants to get more swimmers included and make the push for a title.
“My goal every year would be to win state, but being undefeated again would be pretty cool. I’d like to drop time again, see how fast I can push myself that season,” he says. “If we could get more swimmers to fill more relays, that would be awesome. The relays are key to winning state. More swimmers, and then if we could train harder so we get faster throughout the season, that’d be awesome.”
As far as considering swimming in college, Ring says he hasn’t made a decision either way, but it’s on his mind.
“It would definitely open up my options for college, then I could go a lot of places [on a scholarship]. I’m definitely thinking about it,” he says.