Events: 500 free, 100 back, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay
He's qualified because: Captured 14 top-three medals during his four-year career, capped when he won the 500 free (4:31.20), 100 back (50.60) and was on Central Section record-setting 200 medley (1:37.70) and 400 free (3:06.15) relays. Earned four golds as a junior (200 free, 500 free, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay); a gold (200 medley relay), silver (500 free) and two bronze (200 free, 400 free relay) as a sophomore; and a silver (200 medley relay), bronze (500 free) and a 10th-place (200 free) as a freshman. Signed with USC.
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Cary Wright is going from the cardinal and gold of the Central Section's premier swimming program to the cardinal and gold of a nine-time NCAA champion.
But it was a modestly successful start at Clovis West High that has propelled Wright on to USC.
As a freshman, Wright placed third in the 500 free, 10th in the 200 free and was on the second-place 200 medley relay team at the Central Section Championships, which helped crystallize his desire to earn a NCAA Division I swimming scholarship.
"I knew I had to improve, especially since I only made one [individual] final," Wright said. "But I had also been training year-round for a long time, doing other things besides what's offered in high school, like club swimming. So I knew [a D-I scholarship] was within reach, I just had to keep working really hard to achieve it."
Three years later, Wright has produced 14 career top-three finishes at the section finals. The only boys swimmer to win four gold medals at the section finals each of the past two seasons, he is a repeat selection as The Bee's Boys Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year.
"I could see a big growth between my freshman and sophomore year. Then I just kept building from there," said Wright, who also was recruited by 11-time national champion Michigan, eight-time champ Stanford and two-time champ Florida. "I was able to grow and continue to get faster and eventually get to the point where I could swim D-I in college. That was my main focus in those years."
Wright concluded one of the more successful careers in the storied history of Clovis West aquatics by winning his signature 500-yard freestyle in an All-America 4:31.20, the 100 back in an All-America and school-record 50.60, while also powering the 200 medley (1:33.70) and 400 free (3:06.15) relays to section record and All-America times as he led the Golden Eagles' boys to a 13th straight section team title.
During his career, Wright won the 500 free twice, the 100 back once and the 200 free once while capturing the 200 medley relay three times and the 400 free relay twice.
Golden Eagles coach Steve Baxter said Wright would have been a contender to win the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 100 butterfly – based on his top times – if he had entered any of those events at the section meet.
"He's got all the strokes," Baxter said. "That's where he's different from the great swimmers we've had in the past. He can go anywhere."
Wright routinely swims 3,000- to 5,000-meter sets during practice, preparing himself to swim distance events at USC.
"He does not accept people in his group who are not pushing it. He will make a comment about it, and that will make a difference when he gets to USC – because there, you're expected to be a trainer," Baxter said. "[Trojans coach Dave Salo] recruits kids who he doesn't have to twist their arm to work. It's a great fit for Cary."