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Ervin Received a Friendly Push Into the Water

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Anthony Ervin of Hart High really had no choice.

His brother, Jackie, six years his senior, was into swimming so naturally, Anthony would follow suit.

“We thought this would be a great activity for all the kids and we can car pool,” Ervin’s mother, Sherry, told a neighbor nearly 10 years ago. “So, Anthony kind of got sucked into it.”

Ervin has become one of the finest young sprinters in Southern California.

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Ervin and more than a dozen other swimmers from the region will compete in the Janet Evans Invitational beginning today at USC.

Ervin, 6 feet 2 and 150 pounds, will compete in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle and 100 backstroke. He is seeded third in the 50 and fourth in the 100.

Ervin and younger brother Derek, who also swims for Hart, were destined to follow their brother, Sherry Ervin said.

“If Jackie had played tennis, they would all be tennis players,” Sherry said.

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Second-born Anthony, who has been swimming under Coach Bruce Patmos of Canyons Aquatics since he was 8, long ago eclipsed the success of Jackie, who swam for UC Irvine.

At 10, Ervin set Southern California records for his age group and appeared destined to become an elite swimmer. But soon after Ervin’s interest in swimming took a nose dive.

“For a while he didn’t want to compete,” Sherry Ervin said. “All we asked of him was to continue his workouts. He didn’t have to swim in meets.”

At 13, after a year-long layoff from competition, Ervin resurfaced.

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“It took a year of high school to get him going again,” Patmos said. “I think he began to realize what swimming could do for him.”

Ervin, an honors student, has improved since his return to competition.

“Anthony has put his heart and soul into swimming the last two years,” Sherry Ervin said. “He’s made a true commitment to the sport.”

He set and reset Foothill League records the last two high school seasons in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, and narrowly missed Southern Section Division II records in the finals in both events with times of 21.07 and 45.65 seconds in May.

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College recruiters have been paying attention.

Ervin, 17, who will be a senior in the fall, has been hounded since the beginning of the recruiting period.

Recruiting trips to Auburn and Stanford are in the planning stages, Ervin said. But while recruiting calls are new to him, he does not consider them exciting.

"[Recruiting calls are] definitely important and something that needs to be done, but it’s not something that gives me a thrill,” he said.

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The thrill comes from swimming his best in meets.

“I wouldn’t say I really enjoy [swimming], but I know it’s something I need to do,” he said. “It’s like work to me. I don’t like the workouts, but it’s fun when you’re swimming your best times.”

Ervin said he enjoys high school competition better than club competition because it is more team-oriented. When he swims for Canyons Aquatics, he has only one goal in mind.

“I’m out there to try to get into college,” he said.

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