Terry's push helping Sea Kings

Daily Pilot

Blake Terry knew he was having a good meet at the Pacific Coast League finals, but swimmer of the meet?

The Corona del Mar High senior didn't know it was that good until a fan came up and asked for a picture.

"I didn't hear the announcement," Terry said. "One of my friend's moms came by with a camera and was asking to take a picture because I was swimmer of the meet. I had no idea."

What Terry did know was that his times were fast in the meet May 7 at Beckman High. He swam a season-best 46.80 seconds in winning the 100-yard freestyle and also tied for first in the 50 free with teammate Ari Marks; both touched in 21.53.

Terry, Marks, Matt Berry and Michael Liao swam the 200 free relay in 1 minute, 25.27 seconds, breaking a league meet record.

Terry helped CdM win its fourth straight league title that afternoon. Tonight at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, he will again be a big part of it as the Sea Kings hope to win the second CIF Southern Section title in the boys' program's history.

Not bad for a kid who originally wanted to be a volleyball player like his older sister, Brooke, who graduated from CdM in 2007 and now plays at Iona College in New York.

And swimming still is not Terry's main sport. He is a water polo player, a third-team All-CIF driver who will continue next year at UC Irvine.

"I'd say [swimming] started out maybe freshman and sophomore year as a thing that I needed to do just to stay in shape," Terry said. "I actually wanted to play volleyball, but Coach [Barry] O'Dea said I needed to swim if I wanted to play water polo seriously. I started to get kind of fast during junior year, and went to CIF and got the feel of what swimming was actually like when you go fast. I went into this year excited. It's still secondary to water polo, but I don't dread it like other water polo players do when it comes around."

Terry, Berry, Kim and Liao set the 200 free relay school record last year at CIF finals, placing fifth with a 1:26.55. This year, CdM has already bettered that mark; the quartet that Terry anchors heads into tonight's CIF finals seeded third with a 1:25.97.

O'Dea is excited for his senior. After recording times around 48 or 49 seconds all year in the 100 free, Terry broke through in a big way at league finals after starting his taper.

"We knew he was going to break out," O'Dea said. "We just didn't know when."

It's been a good example for the rest of the team, O'Dea said, that a water polo player has stuck with it in swimming and now is making huge contributions.

"He's one of my seniors that really stayed with the program for four years," O'Dea said. "He got better each year and he kind of grew into his body. A lot of seniors kind of fall off the radar, but it shows that if you stay committed, good things will happen. He really set a good example for all the other guys."

Tonight, the Sea Kings are expected to be in a tight three-team race for the title against Loyola of Los Angeles and defending champion Capistrano Valley, which has become a rival for CdM. But the Sea Kings have been so good, they can also help motivate each other. Terry was flanked by teammates Berry and Liao in the 100 free at the league finals.

"I knew going into [league finals] it was going to be me in lane four and them in [lanes] five and three," Terry said. "I wanted to stay with Matt for the first 50 and let it all out in the second 50. I stayed with Matt, actually got a little ahead of him and just rolled. I was feeling good in the water. I remember thinking in my head in the middle of the third lap that I was feeling really good, so just turn on the jets. I was shocked with the time, but I knew it was going to be faster than [prelims]."

Terry wasn't as fast at CIF prelims Wednesday, but he can still help the Sea Kings individually tonight by earning points in the consolation finals of those two freestyle events.

And he expects both himself, and his team, to be ready.

"It's definitely coming down to the wire," Terry said. "It's going to come down to that last relay, I think. I was shocked at how everyone dropped times, like Jack Yeager from Newport Harbor swimming a 20.99 off the block for the 50 free [at CIF prelims]. People can come out of nowhere.

"I sprang at them with a 46.8 at league, so anything can happen."

Blake Terry Hometown: Newport BeachBorn: April 2, 1992Height: 6-foot-3Weight: 170 poundsSport: swimmingCoach: Barry O'DeaFavorite food: Chicken Parmesan Favorite movie: "Anchorman"Favorite athletic moment: In water polo, when teammate Max Bergeson scored the winning goal against Ventura with four seconds to go in a CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinal match. CdM won, 15-14.Week in review: Terry won the 100-yard freestyle and tied for first in the 50 at the Pacific Coast League finals May 7, helping CdM win the team title. He was named boys' swimmer of the meet.

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