The Wildcats' record-setting senior leads a strong, deep boys swim team that would like to improve on its state runner-up finish last year.
Alec Barnard rises before dawn and is in the pool by 6 a.m. He spends two more hours in the water after school.
Whenever he gets a little groggy from his dizzying routine, he can tease a longtime family friend.
It was Stephanie Boden, a former Arizona State All-American swimmer and the mother of one of his teammates, who suggested he try the sport.
“She looked at Alec when he was 10 or 11,” said Joann Barnard, Alec’s mother, “and she said, ‘He’s got a swimmer’s body. He should try swimming.’ “
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Barnard dived into the sport, found early success and, as Boden likes to put it, “the rest is history.”
Now a senior, Barnard is finishing his high-school career with an Archbishop Murphy team that returns all nine state competitors from last year’s Class 2A state runner-up team.
Archbishop Murphy’s program, under coach Mike McCloskey, is in only its fifth year. But Barnard is a seasoned swimmer who competes year-round for Bellevue Club Swim Team and has participated in the Junior Nationals.
His specialty is the 100-yard butterfly. Last season, he lowered his own 2A state-meet record to 51.21 seconds, which would have placed second in the 4A meet and third in 3A.
“Alec is our first state champion in school history,” McCloskey said. “He showed up in our second year and was in a whole different league. It was kind of fun for all of our swimmers to watch someone go that fast. Their whole expectation level of what they’re capable of rises up. People recognize you can go that fast, and that if you train hard, you can make state. It’s really helped build our program.”
Barnard has signed a letter of intent with Seattle University.
“Seattle University is building a really fast team,” Barnard said. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Barnard’s brother Austin is a sophomore who finished second at state in the 500 freestyle and fourth in the 200 free last season. Austin also swims for the Bellevue Club, as does sophomore teammate Stephen Boden.
“He does distance stuff, I’m more middle distance,” Alec said about his brother.
Boden is another rising star. He was third at state in the 200 individual medley and third in the 500 free as a freshman.
Seniors Hunter Cosgrove and Steve Kane add more depth for the Wildcats. Cosgrove took third in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 100 free at state, while Kane was fourth in diving. Cosgrove, Boden and the Barnard brothers set a meet record while winning the 400 free relay.
Boden’s parents, Stephanie and Pete, were All-Americans at Arizona State. But there’s no question about who sets the example for the Wildcats — Alec Barnard.
“He’s a good leader for the whole team,” Austin said, “and he’s a really good captain.”