Erik Overstreet began his Bullard High career as more of a sprinter and backstroke swimmer.
The Knights senior, however, has the opportunity to depart for UC Santa Barbara as one of the state’s top distance specialists.
Overstreet has fifth-seeded times in the 200 and 500 freestyle races for the inaugural CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships, set for today and Saturday at the Clovis West Aquatics Complex.
Girls diving opens the meet at 8:30 a.m. today, with boys and girls swimming prelims at 2:30 p.m. Boys diving is at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, with the swimming finals at 2:30 p.m.
“I was really pleased when I saw the psych sheets came out,” Bullard coach Iain Patterson said. “I knew after he earned his automatic All-American time in the 200 free and came close in the 500 free that he would be seeded well. But you never know how the rest of the state will stack up. Being in the top five is quite exciting. He has a legitimate shot to make an even bigger name for himself.”
Overstreet clocked an All-America 1:38.59 while winning the 200 free at last weekend’s Central Section Division I championships and swam a consideration All-America 4:30.60 while placing second in the 500 free — the two events he’s been recruited to swim next season at Santa Barbara.
Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills’ Bryce Mefford has the state’s fastest seeded time in the 200 free in 1:37.19; Marina-Huntington Beach’s Joseph Lastelic is tops in the 500 at 4:27.78.
Overstreet’s swims last week were personal records by more than 2 seconds. He swam 1:41.98 while placing second in the 200 at the section finals in 2014 and didn’t qualify in the 500.
“He’s trained very hard and really developed,” Patterson said. “His improvement from last year to this year is very evident, and there is still so much more growth he can have.”
Patterson said Overstreet’s development can be traced to his feel for the water and ability to propel through it.
“As far as natural gifts, he pulls more water than any kid I’ve ever seen in my life,” Patterson said. “That’s what separates him from everyone else.”
Overstreet, an honorable mention All-Bee selection last season, is one of four Central Section swimmers entered at the state meet with top-six seeded times.
Porterville’s Kyle Grissom is second in the 50 free (All-America 20.45 seconds, eight one-hundreths of a second behind Mason Tittle of Northgate-Walnut Creek).
Clovis’ Graham Hauss is fourth in the 500 free (4:30.20) and Buchanan’s Tanner Olmos sixth (4:31.00). Clovis’ 200 free (1:24.73) and 400 free (3:06.67) relays are third and fifth, respectively.
The only top-six on the girls side is Clovis West’s 200 free relay (1:36.26), which qualified fifth.
The section’ best male and female divers — Buchanan’s Connor Cain and Clovis West’s Kelli Ann Funk — are expected to be in the medal hunt. Cain is seeded eighth with a section-winning score of 498.10; Funk is seventh with a top mark of 452.85.