Archived Story

Howard wins two state titles

Published 7:49pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When Benjamin Russell junior swimmer Robert Howard claimed two AHSAA state championship victories, he didn’t celebrate it as you’d expect.
In fact, he admits he didn’t really celebrate it at all, at least not at first.
“I was pretty mad that I didn’t improve on my best time as I wanted to,” Howard said of his initial reaction. “When I stood on the podium, it all hit me and I realized what I had done.”
What Howard had done was win the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle state titles.
He is the first swimmer from Benjamin Russell to claim a state championship in swimming.
Howard, who finished second in the 100 and 200-meter races as a sophomore, said that all things considered, he was proud of how he represented the school.
“I didn’t swim as well as I thought I could’ve, which is good because I have a national meet today, Friday and Saturday,” He said. “Under the circumstances I think I did pretty well. I got the win so I’m pretty excited.”
Howard’s big meet was the icing on the cake for Benjamin Russell, which claimed its best team finish during the state championships.
Howard began his competitive swimming career as a distance swimmer; only recently had he made the transition to shorter races.
“The training is a little different for them,” he said. “When training for sprints, it’s a lot more about being explosive and getting my muscles ready for the distances I have to swim.”
Howard – who is currently competing in his second national meet of the season – said that experience on the national stage helped to strengthen his resolve as he approached the state championships.
“(Competing in national meets) gave me more confidence in knowing I can do it,” Howard said. “I didn’t have as much pressure on me at state, having swum on a bigger stage.”
With two state titles in tow, Howard said he’s confident that he can perform better than he did in winning the state titles.
He added he was ready to show what he was really capable of.
“I know I can swim a lot better,” Howard said. “I’ve been working hard, and I feel like I’ve been getting stronger. If I keep at it, I can do well in this next meet and future meets. The state of Alabama isn’t the swimming hub of the world. I know there are a lot of people out there that are faster. But I know I can make some improvements, and I’m going to be ready to go.”