Much like his races, Joel Everman of Notre Dame High has maintained a slow, steadily improving pace throughout his high school career.
Everman made the consolation finals in his two individual events at the Southern Section Division II finals his freshman year. He progressed to third-place finishes in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle as a sophomore. Last year, he won both in All-American times.
Everman, 18, hasn't stopped getting better. Next month, he will compete in the U.S. National Championships in Minneapolis for the first time. He has already qualified in the 1,000 freestyle and could qualify in three other events at a West Region junior meet in Fargo, N.D., the week before the national meet.
With the graduation of Buena's Matt Carter, Everman is unquestionably the best distance swimmer in the region.
The only problem is high school races don't go that far.
For a distance swimmer, the 200 and 500 are about as good as it gets.
"Until this year, he really didn't even have a good 100 time," said Terry Stoddard, Everman's club coach at Swim Pasadena.
And with many college coaches watching the national meets, Everman is concentrating on long distances, at least for the next month.
With a grade-point average over 4.0 and a 1240 SAT score, Everman is considering Harvard and California. A good performance in the nationals, however, and his options could increase.
"I've really been emphasizing the distance races for the nationals," Everman said. "[The Southern Section finals] are important. But I'm not even sure if I'm going to rest for them."
Everman will be favored to win the 500 freestyle again at the Southern Section finals in May but he thinks he may not even be the best on his club team in the 200. Kenny Carpenter of Crescenta Valley and Craig Taylor of South Pasadena were multiple finalists last year and could swim against Everman in the 200.
"They're pretty good, it won't be easy to beat them," Everman said.
Stoddard isn't so sure.
"He's been weight training for the last 11 months and he's never done that before," he said. "The weights will help him with the short distances. He really is a very versatile swimmer, and he gets more versatile each year."
Even with Everman, Notre Dame faces an uphill battle in the Mission League against perennial powers Loyola and Harvard-Westlake.
Other individuals to watch:
Jennifer Parmenter, Granada Hills, junior: The most prolific high-school female in the region will compete in dual meets for the first time after swimming for L.A. Baptist the past two seasons. Parmenter set the Southern Section Division I record in the 200 individual medley the past two seasons, timing 2:00.41 last year. The City record of 1:59.53--set by Kristine Quance of Granada Hills in 1993--is also the national record. Parmenter also won the Division I 500 freestyle the past two seasons.
Heather Boylan, Saugus, senior: Boylan, who has signed with USC, has won two Southern Section Division II individual titles each of the past two years. Last year, she won the 200 freestyle in 1:52.71 and the 500 freestyle in 4:55.83. She is the best hope for the Centurions as they challenge Hart, which has won 15 consecutive Foothill League titles.
Kenny Carpenter, Crescenta Valley, junior: He had two second-place finishes and helped win two relays for the Falcons in Division II. Like Everman, Parmenter and Boylan, Carpenter competes for Swim Pasadena.
Nicole Beck, Buena, senior: Beck represents the last part of a Bulldog dynasty that won three consecutive Division I girls' titles from 1994-96. Although injuries from a car accident have cut into her practice time, Beck, who has signed with UCLA, should still be a factor in the finals. She finished third in the 100 backstroke last year.
Stephanie Shapiro, Granada Hills, senior: The best of a deep Highlander team before the arrival of Parmenter, Shapiro has won six individual events at the City finals the past three seasons. She combined with Natalie Shapiro, Sarah Clark and Katherine Neilson to set a City record in the 200 medley relay. Stephanie Shapiro, Clark and Nielson all return.
Troy Dumais, Buena, senior: The best diver in the region, Dumais won the Division I title after losing to older brother Justin the previous two years. Dumais is far from the only standout diver from Ventura County. Younger brother Brice Dumais, Ryan Southwick of Royal and Erik Patton of Westlake all finished in the top eight in Division I.