WESTPORT, Conn. – Staples High School swimmer Jonathan Blansfield’s victory in the 500-yard freestyle at the league championship meet came down to the second half of the race. The first half, however, is where he may have rewritten the record books.
Blansfield, a junior, won the race in meet record time at last week’s Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championships. For his achievement, Blansfield was named The Westport Daily Voice Athlete of the Month.
He won the event in 4:35:98, breaking by more than 3 seconds a mark that was set in 2011. “I wasn’t expecting that,’’ Blansfield said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”
He came into the race seeded third after the preliminary heats and knew he needed to stay with the contenders early. “I usually build into my races,’’ Blansfield said. “I knew that if I was with them in the first 200, that in the last 300 I could make my move. I stayed with them and then took the lead with about 250 yards to go.”
Blansfield also finished second in the 200 free, helping the Wreckers to a fourth-place finish. Staples entered the season with expectations to compete for the league title, but two swimmers chose to train exclusively with their YMCA team.
“It’s kind of a tough thing,’’ Blansfield said. “We lost two of our top swimmers who could have contributed a lot of points on relays and individual swims. There was nothing we could do about it, and we still did well at FCIACs. We moved on and did the best we possibly could. I know where they’re coming from. I respect their decision and the team respects it. There were no hard feelings.”
Blansfield will turn his attention to the Class LL and State Open, where he will be among the favorites in the 500 free. He’s also peaking for the YMCA Nationals next month with the Westport YMCA Water Rats team. “The ultimate goal is to have a good performance at nationals,’’ Blansfield said. “I hope to go really fast there.”