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January 16, 2013

POOLSIDE: Jeff’s Martin has lofty expectations for self, Devils

Junior aiming for state title

JEFFERSONVILLE — Jeffersonville hasn’t had an individual boys’ swimming state champion since Ben Hesen in 2004.

Zach Blankenbeker came close a year ago, finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle.

With Blankenbeker gone, it’s now up to Timothy “T” Martin to bring home a state title for the Red Devils.

A year ago as a sophomore, Martin finished fourth in the 50 freestyle and fifth in the 100 freestyle. Martin is expected to return to the IUPUI Natatorium Feb. 22-23 and contend for a pair of state championships.

“If he can hit his goal times, he’ll be in the hunt for state titles,” Jeffersonville coach Keith Gast said. “If somebody’s going to be him, they’re going to have to swim really fast. If they do, we’ll be all right with that.”

It’s still undetermined what Martin will swim in the tournament. He may stick with the 50 and 100, but with Blankenbeker having moved on to West Point, Martin could slide into his distance freestyle events.

“It’s been a little bit of a liberation for T with Zach gone,” Gast said. “With Zach gone, T’s been able to stretch a little bit and swim in some of the distance events. We really like the way he’s swimming the 500 right now. We’re playing around in all of the freestyle events right now, and we’re not sure where he’ll end up a month from now [in sectional and at state].”

Martin’s times also have him close to qualifying for the USA Swimming Junior Nationals in Indianapolis this summer.

“I’m  confident he’ll be close,” Gast said. “I think his times at the end of the season are going to be pretty exciting.”

On Wednesday, Martin answered questions about his relationship with Blankenbeker, his sister Hanna, who also graduated last spring and is now swimming at Youngstown State, his goals for this season and beyond, and much more in the News and Tribune’s Poolside “On the Spot” series.

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