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Mefford ready for next challenge

By: Matt Long
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Having accomplished about all he could at the high school level, Bryce Mefford is ready to take the next step.

A month after graduating from Oak Ridge High, Mefford, 18, will compete this week in the 2017 Phillips 66 National Swim Championships in Indianapolis. Nearly all the top swimmers in the country, including the Olympians who competed last year in Brazil, will be at the meet. The top-five finishers in each event will represent the United States at the World Championships July 14-30 in Budapest, Hungary.

Having competed in the Olympic trials last year, the 6-foot-3-inch Mefford knows what he’s up against this week. At least he will be 100 percent healthy when he dives into the pool, as opposed to the trials when he was awaiting surgery on his foot.

“It will definitely be stressful because I’m competing for a spot on the team,” Mefford said. “The experience of Olympic trials showed me the set up and was good for me. Hopefully, I’m ready to swim and do well. I’m super excited to compete at that level, the level I feel I should be competing at.”

Mefford will be competing in seven events at the meet, but his best chances to make the U.S. team is in the 200 backstroke and the 100 backstroke. He’ll also be competing in the 50 back, 200 free, 100 free, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

“I hope to swim a 1:55 or 1:56 in the 200 back,” Mefford said. “My best is 1:59 and I swam a 2:01 at trials, but was hurt then. I also want to place in the top-five so I make the team. If I swim a 1:55 that would definitely place me in the top-five. If I don’t make the team, then I just want to swim my best time. I’m excited to race.”

In the 100 back, Mefford said hopes to swim a 53, or even down into the 52s, though, he said that would be pushing it. His best time is high 54s.

If he fails to make the team, Mefford said he will take a week off of training and then start up again for a few more upcoming meets before he heads to college at Cal Berkeley on Aug. 13. His ultimate long-range goal is to represent the United States in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Mefford had a great career at Oak Ridge, culminating in a pair of team state championships he helped the Trojans win in 2016 and 2017. Mefford has won nine combined individual Sac-Joaquin Section and state titles, eight relay titles, has eight sections records and two state records and has posted 16 All-American times, among other accomplishments.

“I loved high school swimming and the team atmosphere,” Mefford said. “I’m most proud of winning state junior year. It was our first time winning and we had some seniors ending their careers and some freshmen just starting theirs. Everyone just held each other up and it was cool to see the interaction between everyone.”

As a freshman, Mefford swam at the freshman-sophomore level at sections and did quite well. However, he yearned to swim at the varsity level and couldn’t wait to do so as a sophomore.

“As a freshman, I definitely thought I’d have a good four years,” Mefford said. “I was excited, but really didn’t know what I was doing. I’m super surprised with making state my sophomore year and at how well I did, and then to win it as a junior. Overall, I’m so happy with how I did in high school, mostly at states.”