She's qualified because: Captured gold individually in 200 (1:48.92) and 500 free (4:45.60) – both records and All-America times – and as part of 200 (1:36.96) and 400 free (3:30.84) relay teams during the Central Section Championships. Finished four-year career with 15 golds out of possible 16 and section records in all four of her primary events.
He said it: "As her father, I'm proudest because she's done this on her own. There's been no arm twisting. [Wife] An and I know with all our kids that it was going to be tough. These kids are surrounded by swimming. But this is her love that she's developed." – Clovis West coach Steve Baxter.
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As Tristin Baxter prepares to head off for college in the Arizona desert, she leaves in her wake a high school swimming career nearly unmatched in Central Section history.
Baxter collected 15 out of a possible 16 gold medals during her four seasons with Clovis West High, touching the wall first four more times at the Central Section Championships on May 22 in Bakersfield. Only former Golden Eagle Kristen Hastrup, a 2004 graduate, was a perfect 16 for 16 between individual events and relay teams.
The Arizona State-bound Baxter is The Bee's Girls Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year for the third time in four years.
"I'm really happy with how I did overall. I know I worked really hard, and it's great to see it all pay off," Baxter said. "It was a really fun four years at Clovis West."
While falling short of matching Hastrup's gold-medal haul – she was second in the 200 free as a sophomore just six months after shoulder surgery – Baxter is unparalleled in one regard. She leaves Clovis West with her name attached to four section records, a first for a girls swimmer.
Individually, Baxter erased Hastrup's 2003 section record (1:49.45) in the 200 free with a time of 1:48.92, this after swimming a 1:48.38 earlier that ended up tied for 13th-fastest in the nation this season.
Then Baxter demolished her own section record in the 500 free, posting the nation's sixth-best time this season in 4:45.60, which was nearly 7 seconds faster than her 2009 time and more than 12 seconds faster than teammate and second-place finisher Mackenzie Schuler.
Baxter was the anchor of the Golden Eagles' champion 200 free (1:36.96, 46th-best nationally) and 400 free (3:30.84, 53rd) relay teams one season after she helped establish section records in both events (1:36.96 and 3:30.61, respectively.)
She also holds Clovis West's 200 individual medley mark of 2:04.92 that would be a section record had she posted it at the championship meet.
"I like the competition and I like racing," said Baxter, who started swimming competitively at age 8. "That's one of my favorite things about it. I like the feeling at the end of a race when I've done well, you feel like you've accomplished something."
Baxter will focus on swimming at Arizona State but also attempt to play water polo – a sport where she was a two-time Bee Player of the Year.
The daughter of former national-class swimmers Steve and An Baxter certainly didn't coast through her senior season.
"The biggest concern any coach has when you have a senior, your daughter or not, is sometimes they just want to do something else," said Steve Baxter, Clovis West's coach. "But she still enjoys the sets, the competition and the meets, and she really wants to go swim in college. Swimming is a tough sport and you do it for so many years. But she's still totally in love with the sport."