It’s never been done, but Tyler Silver’s goal is to do it.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association swimming championship meet record in the 100-meter backstroke race is 48.78, a 9-year-old mark set by Southeast Guilford’s Eugene Godsoe.
Silver, an Athens Drive senior, won last year’s NCHSAA in the 100 back, coming in first with a 50.27.
This year, the 18-year-old is eyeing 47 seconds flat.
His goals, which are attainable, are beyond anything that’s been done here in North Carolina in backstroke.
Athens Drive swim coach Shane Barry
He has already swum a 49.10. But his goal is better than many college swimmers. And that’s on purpose.
“I have goal times I’m trying to get,” Silver said. “These times will put (me) on the (all-) conference team in college. I know if I can make conference team freshman year, take little steps sophomore year, probably take junior year to make NCAAs and senior year win NCAAs. Then hopefully the transition from yards to meters over the summer (for international competition) will work out.”
In September, Silver committed to Florida, which finished fourth overall in the NCAA last year. His college swim plan will be a hopeful road to the 2020 Olympics.
Silver, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound swimmer, finds his biggest strength beneath the surface.
“I’m not the tallest guy out there,” Silver said. “Being good underwater, kicking, really helps me get a lead off the start, and I can beat people on the turns, too. That’s what helps me out the most.”
In 14 years of being around swimming, Athens Drive coach Shane Barry said Silver’s kick is unlike anything he’s ever seen.
When an average swimmer rounds the turn during a race, his kick may carry him or her a quarter of the distance of the lane – if he or she is good.
With Silver, his legs take him much farther along.
“His backstroke, he does something very unique,” Barry said. “He goes almost two-thirds of the way down the pool off the walls and the start. He’s like a torpedo under the water. It’s really amazing to watch, because he kind of has a different style that I don’t think anyone else is really capable of. He’s got that number of kicks timed.”
Silver, who is also accomplished in his high school calculus and physics courses, has a formula for every stroke of a race.
“He studies it down to a science,” Barry said. “He’s going to be the favorite to break the state record this year.”
Dedicated to improving
When he was younger, Silver played multiple sports. Both his parents were swimmers. His father, Paul, is his club Marlins of Raleigh Swim Team coach, the foundation of his training and dedication.
Tyler Silver said swimming takes up so much time that some are often discouraged from sticking to it. He didn’t stray, however, because it was his best sport.
“You definitely need to know how to manage your time,” he said. “With swimming and school during the week, you don’t really get much time to do anything else. I usually relax a little bit on Saturdays, but even like Friday nights, we practice Saturday mornings, so we can’t really stay out late.”
Silver’s typical schedule includes an hour and a half before school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a two-hour practice after school every day, one-hour weightlifting sessions three days after practice and a three-hour swim on Saturdays.
There are times he might miss an early-morning practice because of an exam, but he somehow finds balance.
“I have him in physics, too, so I kind of have both sides there,” Barry said. “He works really hard – that’s what it comes down to. In most teenagers, you don’t really see that, especially to the level he’s dedicated himself to. He’s got all that practice, and he’s got his homework perfectly in line when he comes in every day, too.”
During a recent practice with his club team, Silver was always one of the first to start his drills and laps. And with each minute in his element, he longed to be better.
“At the end of the day,” Silver said, “I just want to make sure I give it my all to make sure I can get the goal.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538; @JessikaMorgan