WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport swimmer Ian Rainey believes the best is yet to come. At a recent meet against some of the best swimmers in the nation, the 17-year-old Staples High School junior proved he is already one of the best in the United States.
Competing for the Wilton Wahoos, Rainey was sixth in the 400-meter individual medley in the Arena Grand Prix at Orlando, Fla. He also finished 14th in the 200 butterfly. Rainey improved his time in the individual medley by 7 seconds.
“I was just hoping to go right around my best time,’’ Rainey said. “I definitely did not expect to get that kind of time at this point in the season.”
Tyler Clary, a gold medalist in the 2012 Summer Olympics, won the race. But it was a coming out party for Rainey, who moved to Westport last year.
“I felt pretty small going these big guys,’’ he said. “It was great to be up there and racing against this type of competition.”
Rainey believes, however, that he is just scratching the surface of his potential. He is still training for the YMCA Short Course National Championship, which will be held April 3 to 6 in Greensboro, N.C.
“Hopefully, I can drop even a few more seconds,’’ he said. “That’s really the race that I want to focus on.”
Rainey began his winter season by competing for the Staples High School swim team. In January, Rainey and teammate Nathaniel Boley decided to leave the team and train exclusively with the Wahoos.
“We talked it out with (Wahoos) coach (Randy Erlenbach),’’ Rainey said. “It was hard to leave the team. I really liked swimming for the high school. Hopefully, I’ll be back with them next winter. It was a hard decision.”
Rainey believes, however, the decision was the right one. He credits Erlenbach and the Wahoos for his success at the Grand Prix meet.
“Coach has been pushing me and my teammates on the Wahoos have been supportive,’’ Rainey said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”