Events: 200 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay
She's qualified because: Became the fourth swimmer in Central Section history to win eight individual titles – the maximum possible – during the section finals. Capped four-year career by lowering the section record in the 100 fly to 55.02 seconds while also winning the 200 IM (2:06.21). Won 100 fly and 100 breast as a junior, and the 100 fly and 200 IM in both her freshman and sophomore seasons. Her 100 breast title (1:04.95) as a junior tied the section record but has been eclipsed since. Signed with San Diego State.
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Clovis East High's Loreen Whitfield, as a freshman, stepped onto the blocks for the 200-yard individual medley, launched herself into the pool and outraced a defending champion in a consideration All-America time for the first Central Section swimming title of her career.
Later on that sweltering May afternoon in 2008, Whitfield chased down the defending 100 butterfly champion, a senior with a Division I scholarship in hand, and touched the wall in section-record time.
And that was just the first act of a four-year performance that culminated with Whitfield becoming only the fourth girls swimmer in section history to win eight individual goal medals at the section finals, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Whitfield won her final two titles – in the 200 IM and 100 fly, for the third and fourth times, respectively – during the Division I championships May 20 at the Clovis West Aquatics Complex. She is The Bee's Girls Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year.
"I'm just thankful I had the opportunity to accomplish that," Whitfield said. "I was lucky enough to be able to set it up my freshman year."
After breaking the section 100 fly record as a freshman, she continued to lower the mark each of the next three years. Whitfield shaved just more than a second from her 56.06-second debut to the 55.02 she swam during the Division I preliminaries as a senior. Whitfield also tied the section record in the 100 breast (1:04.95) during her junior season, but that mark has since been eclipsed.
"It was my goal going in Day 1 in high school," Whitfield said of breaking the 100 fly record. "I knew it was possible, and every single year I wanted to set the bar higher for myself. It feels great to know all my hard work allowed me to be the best in the Valley in that event."
Now Whitfield can turn her attention to the nation and even the world. She will depart later this summer for San Diego State, where she hopes to achieve the difficult task of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament as a freshman.
But before that, Whitfield will get a taste of international-level swimming when she represents American Samoa at the World Aquatics Championships set for July 24-31 in Shanghai, China. In an event that could become a stepping stone to Whitfield swimming for American Samoa in the 2012 Olympics, she will compete in the 100 fly, 100 breast and 200 IM.
Not that she jumped at the opportunity when it was first presented.
"I was reluctant at first because I was questioning if I wanted to stay here and train for Junior Nationals," said Whitfield, whose mother's father, Fale Sau Pili, was born in American Samoa.
"Then I talked to coach Sharar one day and he basically slapped me upside the head and told me it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I took his advice and decided to go for it. The fact that I'm going hasn't hit me yet. I'm sure once I'm on the plane going over there, it will finally hit me."
Sharar, the coach at Clovis East, said this opportunity didn't come by chance, but because Whitfield has put in eight to 11 grueling practices a week 50 weeks a year since the seventh grade.
"She committed from an early age to excellence," Sharar said. "She wasn't an instant success. She worked hard.
"It was important for her to improve each year because sometimes you lose that drive. But she never did. She didn't allow it to happen."
The 8-timers club
Girls who have won eight career individual Central Section swimming titles – the maximum possible:
Sybil Smith, Memorial, 1981-84
Kristin Hastrup, Clovis West, 2001-04
Samantha Goates, Exeter, 2005-08
Loreen Whitfield, Clovis East, 2008-11
– Bob Barnett, Central Section historian