Limm never has won a state title. While he hopes that changes this week, a championship is not the only thing to get out of a good performance.

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MUKILTEO — Chris Erickson thought it was a fluke.

When senior Henry Limm ripped off a 21.9 in the 50-yard freestyle midway through this swimming season, his coaches were in disbelief. Primarily a distance swimmer, Limm’s training hasn’t been conducive to developing sheer speed.

“Nobody saw this coming,” said Erickson, Limm’s coach at Kamiak High. “He’s had the long stuff. But the raw speed. … He didn’t have the raw speed.”

If you go

Boys State Swimming Championships


King County Aquatics Center, Federal Way


Friday (prelims) — 2A at 9:45 a.m.; 3A at 2 p.m.; 4A at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (finals) — 2A at 9:30 a.m.; 3A at 2:15 p.m.; 4A at 7 p.m.

Limm dropped his 50 time again in late January, this time to a state-leading 21.4 seconds.

“And he still doesn’t know how to swim the 50 yet,” Erickson said.

When the 4A state meet begins at 6:30 p.m on Friday at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Limm won’t be in the 50 free field. Instead, he’ll swim preliminary races in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly, two of the other three events he’s led the state in this season.

The fourth, the 500 freestyle, is where Limm’s best finish at the state meet came a year ago. He was third as a junior, going 4 minutes, 41.96 seconds.

Limm never has won a state title. While he hopes that changes this week, a championship is not the only thing to get out of a good performance.

“There is that measurable improvement,” Limm said. “A lot of the reason I swim now is just to see how far I can push myself. How fast can I go after being really tired from the set before.”

Limm began to see exponential improvement quite recently, as in the past year or so. Heavy training with his club team, the South Snohomish County Dolphins, has coincided with his maturing body.

“I’m not the little guy any more,” Limm said.

“He’s more man-sized now,” Erickson said.

Five Swimmers to Watch

Dean Nguyen, Franklin — The 2015 3A 100 breaststroke champion added the 200 freestyle to the 100 free, in which he was second at state a year ago, for 2016. Won both the 100 and 200 free at Sea-King district meet and will look for the double win at state as a senior.

Jonathan Cook, Jackson — The Timberwolves sophomore brings the top times into the 4A meet in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. Cook will go up against Kamiak’s Henry Limm for the second straight week. Cook led the state in the event for much of the season.

Jason Klein, Issaquah — The Eagles senior qualified for state in seven of the eight individual events. He is the fastest returning finisher from the 2015 meet in the 200 IM. Was third in the event a year ago at 1:54.59. He has the top seed time in the 100 back at 52.41.

Grant Heisey, Shorecrest — The Shorecrest senior brings the best times into the 2A 200 free at 1:46.73, and in the 500 free at 4:45.68. Heisey was fourth in the 200 a year ago, and finished second to Archbishop Murphy’s Stephen Boden in the 500 free a year ago.

Dave Makhervaks, Newport — The defending 100 backstroke champion in 4A trails Issaquah’s Klein, bringing the second-best time into this meet at 52.59. He is the top seed in the 100 free with a time of 47.42.

Five Teams to Watch

Bellevue — The defending 3A champs were disqualified out of the 200 free relay at districts, and still held off the field to win the Sea-King title. The Wolverines get that third relay team back for their run at another state title, starting with the prelims on Friday, with seed times indicating a 352-336 repeat title.

Bainbridge — The Spartans are dominated by underclassmen, but their youth belies their club swimming experience and talent that could build a strong, sustained run at the high school level over the next few years. Bainbridge brought the district meet down to the final race, the 400 free relay, before succumbing last Saturday to Bellevue.

Newport — The two-time defending 4A champ is the favorite again, but looks as if it will get a stiff test from KingCo rival Issaquah. Seed times heading into the meet would give the Knights a third straight title.

Issaquah — The Eagles have Klein with the top time in the backstroke at 52.41 seconds, but its in the relays where Issaquah stays within reach of a title run. Issaquah comes into the meet with the No. 2 seeded time to Newport in the 200 medley and 200 free relays, and the top seed in the 400 free relay.

Shorecrest — The Highlanders are set to contend for a Top-3 finish in the 2A ranks. From seed times, Shorecrest would finish second to Anacortes, 262-211. Lindbergh points out in third, narrowly.

Limm began swimming early in his life. He’d tried the team sports — basketball and baseball — but admits he never was one of the best on the court or field.

Then his mother signed him up for the summer swim team with the Dolphins after his fourth-grade year.

He’s now progressed to a point where the U.S. Olympic trials are within reach. Limm said he is closest to having a qualifying time in the 200 breaststroke, needing to drop 1.76 seconds to make it. Most of his races going forward will be longer, in many cases double the length of the high-school competitions.

Those races will take place through his club, and at the collegiate level. Limm doesn’t yet know where he will swim in college, but he plans to swim.

He does know he’s looking for a smaller school, so as to focus on academics. He is taking six AP classes at Kamiak.

“I’ve heard from people that at D-I schools, you go as an athlete,” Limm said. “I want to do more studying than that. That’s not to say that I still can’t swim fast. I’ll definitely get good training.”

The process already has led to swims at several national-level events.

“That’s all kind of put some fire to keep me going,” Limm said.

“And the high-school season is kind of the icing on that cake.”