Many athletes have goals in mind for what they would like to accomplish.
At one point or another, they often zero in on their objectives and work relentlessly year-round to achieve such standards.
It’s rare when someone achieves the goal they set out to accomplish, and it’s another when their ambitions branch out to breaking records that surprise even the athlete themselves.
At the start of the 2019 season, Danny Syrkin of the La Cañada High boys’ swimming team set his sights on seeing his name written among the records banner draped on the side of the Spartans’ pool.
Entering his junior year, Syrkin had already shattered a number of swimming marks and captured individual league titles on the way.
It’s even more astonishing that Syrkin, who has committed to USC, battled through lingering injuries throughout the year and when the season turned the corner to the Rio Hondo League finals, the senior still wasn’t swimming at full capacity.
Regardless, Syrkin led the La Cañada boys’ swimming team to its first CIF Southern Section Division II title and a second consecutive Rio Hondo League championship, collecting All-American times along the way.
For his efforts in the pool, the former All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year can now add the 2018-19 La Cañada Valley Sun Athlete of the Year moniker to his many accolades.
“I’m not always the most vocal guy,” Syrkin said. “I try to be, but I think for me, I’d really like to set a good example of what it takes to be at a high level — doing things correctly and treating my body and preparing myself in a way that reflects the level that I’ve gotten to over the years.
“I think I’d like to use that as a means to hopefully inspire some of the younger swimmers on the team. Honestly, I was once in their shoes. I wasn’t always the greatest when I was younger. It takes diligence and consistent hard work, but I think if I can just inspire even a couple of them to strive for greatness, then I’m doing my job.”
Syrkin captured All-American times in four individual events and three team relay races.
As a junior, he topped the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Assn. list of swimmers in the 100-yard butterfly with a first-place and national-best mark of 46.63 seconds at the CIF State and Diving Swimming Championship in May.
Syrkin added All-American marks in the 100 freestyle (44.17) and 50 freestyle (20.32) at the state championships. With Eddie Cosic, Thomas Hoffman and Chris O’Grad, Syrkin captured All-American times in the 200 medley relay (1:31.33), the 200 freestyle relay (1:24.84) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:05.16), also at state competition.
Alongside a CIF Division II title, Syrkin broke his own record in the 100 butterfly in 47.25 to retain his crown and added the 50 freestyle title with a 20.38 finish to lift the Spartans to the division championship, topping Damien, 336-235.
“Impressive is the right word,” said La Cañada coach David Hill about Syrkin after winning the CIF Division II championship. “Especially because I don’t think he’s reached his taper fully yet. I think his focus point is actually going to be ... at state.
“Even though he had really spectacular races, obviously breaking his own record in the 100 butterfly and clinching the win in the 50 freestyle, considering he can swim those times when he’s probably still got some juice in the tank, it’s pretty exciting.”
At the Rio Hondo League finals where the Spartans edged San Marino, 486-439, for their second title, Syrkin broke a seven-year league finals record in the 100 backstroke with an All-American time of 49.31 to capture the league crown in the event.
He added another league title in the 200 freestyle in 1:40.95 and then broke the Spartans’ relay record in the 200 medley event with Cosic, Hoffman and O’Grady with a finish of 1:33.18. The same group also set a new league standard in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:25.15.
With one year left at La Cañada and records still yet to be broken, Sykrin’s goal stays the same —to break more records.