When a racer goes by X, he figures to put a target on his back.
Except in X Rose’s case, he’s not only a moving target but a runaway one.
There simply was no catching the young Kona Dolphins’ record-breaker at the state age group swimming championships last week on Oahu, were X didn’t just mark the spot – it marked the top of the podium.
The 12-year-old Rose won all eight of his races and broke three state records in ruling the 11-12 division at the biannual meet of Hawaii swim clubs.
“We are still constantly wowed,” Dolphins coach Joyce Follis said. “As much as we prepare and like to think we can predict how a meet will go, I don’t think any of us were ready for how much time he dropped and how many records he broke.”
When Rose – who also goes by Nathaniel – leaves the water, Follis is happy that his ego remains in check. The seventh-grader is home-schooled.
“I think most of all I am constantly surprised with how humble and kind he has remained through the process,” Follis said. “Being as fast and talented as he is can easily inflate a young athlete’s ego, but he has remained so humble – his family has really done a fantastic job at keeping him grounded.”
Perhaps his most breathtaking performance came in the 50-yard breaststroke, where he touched in 28.18 seconds to shatter a 10-year-old record with a time that ranks second in the nation this season, Follis said.
He stands third in the 100 breaststroke after breaking a record last set in 2011, finishing in 1:02.95, and Rose’s 57.45 to break the mark in the 100 individual medley is among the top five.
Rose’s favorite performance, Follis said, came in the 200 breaststroke, and event he won by about three-quarters the length of the pool by beating his previous best by more than 13 seconds.
“Talk about an epic win,” Follis said.
There was no shortage of those.
Rose also took gold in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle – just missing a record in the 50 – and the 100 butterfly. He won each event by at least one body length.
“This meet was all about racing the clock and executing meet strategy for the best possible times,” Follis said. “When he ages up there will be more competition again.”
Next up, Rose is gearing for the Northwest Regionals in late March in Federal Way, Washington, where he’s eyeing the top spot nationally in the 50 breaststroke.
“We want him to keep enjoying the sport,” Follis said, “that’s No. 1. We make sure our kids are always having fun and enjoying what they do, it keeps the passion for it alive and makes their training feel easier on the days where it’s brutal.”
For the Big Island’s high school swimmers, this was their third big meet in four weeks. The HHSAA championships were Feb. 14-15 on Maui, and the BIIF finals were earlier in the month. Previously, the short course age group meet was held in December.
“We trained to focus on all three of them, but I think it was pretty hard and presented a new challenge,” said Jon Hayashida, coach of Hilo Aquatic Club and Hilo High.
The new scheduling dynamic made his son’s accomplishments all the more notable.
Kai Hayashida claimed four gold medals in boys 13-14, winning the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 free as well as the 400 IM. The Hilo High freshman took silver in the 200 butterfly and bronze in the 100 and 200 free, reaching personal-bests in all seven events. Hayashida was the third-highest point scorer in his division.
There were two other double-gold medalists from the Big Island: Korrie Tengan and Oliliuwelaakawahine Wise.
Swimming for Warrior Aquatic Club, Tengan took home gold in the 200 IM and 200 breaststroke in girls 15-16.
“One of the events that stood out to me this was my 200 IM,” Tengan said. “I ended up breaking 2:05 and finally got 2:04. It stood out because I genuinely love swimming the IM because you swim all the strokes. I love how diverse the event is compared to others.”
The Waiakea junior also left with three silvers and a bronze, resuming her friendly rivalry with Grace Monahan, a fellow 16-year-old who won the points title while competing for Kamehameha Swim Club, an Oahu powerhouse. The previous week on Maui, Monahan claimed double gold for the second consecutive year at the high school championships.
“I love the challenge of swimming with Grace,” Tengan said. “She is a great competitor and she pushes me to my limits.
“Outside of the pool, she is so kind and she is more than just a swimmer. She is a great friend, too. Competing with her for so long, the memories are amazing and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the future.”
Wise delivered two victories for Hawaii Island Swim Club, winning the 100 and 200 breaststroke in girls 11-12.
Top-3 finishes by Big Island swimmers
Girls 10-under 400-yard IM
2 Blair Oka Kona Aquatics 6:16.43
Boys 11-12 400 IM
3 Stanley Ray Oka Kona Aquatics 5:14.37
Boys 13-14 1,650 freestyle
1 Kai Hayashida Hilo Aquatic Club 17:02.84
3 Levi Childers Kona Aquatics 17:40.22
Girls 11-12 200 breaststroke
1 Oliliuwelaakawahine Hawaii Island Swim Club 2:36.87
Boys 11-12 200 breaststroke
1 Nathaniel Rose Kona Dolphins 2:26.80
3 Coleson Pouoa Academy Swim Club 2:40.31
Girls 15-18 400 IM
2 Korrie Tengan Warrior Aquatic 4:28.74
Boys 13-14 400 IM
1 Kai Hayashida 14 Hilo Aquatic Club 4:23.83
Girls 15-18 100 breaststroke
3 Korrie Tengan Warrior Aquatic 1:04.99 S
Boys 15-18 100 breaststroke
3 Duke Becker Kona Aquatics 59.87
Boys 13-14 200 freestyle
3 Kai Hayashida 14 Hilo Aquatic 1:46.61
Girls 11-12 50 breaststroke
3 Oliliuwelaakawahin 12 Hawaii Island 33.98
Boys 11-12 50 breaststroke
1 Nathaniel Rose 12 Kona Dolphins 28.18
Girls 15-18 100 butterfly
2 Korrie Tengan 16 Warrior Aquatic 56.55
Boys 11-12 200 freestyle
1 Nathaniel Rose Kona Dolphins 1:57.54
3 Stanley Ray Oka Kona Aquatics 2:05.58
Boys 11-12 200 butterfly
3 Stanley Ray Oka Kona Aquatics 2:26.82
Boys 10-under 500 freestyle
2 Zane Imonen 10 Academy Swim 6:23.62
Boys 11-12 500 freestyle
3 Stanley Ray Oka 11 Kona Aquatics 5:32.22
Boys 13-14 1,000 freestyle
1 Kai Hayashida 14 Hilo Aquatic 10:06.81
Boys 11-12 50 backstroke
3 Kaiea Hudgins 11 Academy Swim 31.54
Girls 13-14 200 backstroke
3 Bella Shurley Kona Dolphins 2:13.02
Girls 11-12 100 IM
3 Oliliuwelaakawahin Hawaii Island 1:07.15
Boys 11-12 100 IM
1 Nathaniel Rose 12 Kona Dolphins 57.45
Boys 13-14 100 freestyle
3 Kai Hayashida 14 Hilo Aquatic Clu 1 49.41
Girls 11-12 100 breaststroke
1 Oliliuwelaakawahin Hawaii Island 1:13.72
3 Christiana Rose Kona Dolphins 1:15.23
Boys 11-12 100 breaststroke
1 Nathaniel Rose Kona Dolphins 1:02.95
2 Coleson Pouoa Academy Swim 1:12.24 AGWZ
Girls 15-18 200 IM
1 Korrie Tengan Warrior Aquatic 2:04.91
Boys 11-12 100 freestyle
1 Nathaniel Rose Kona Dolphins 51.69
Boys 11-12 200 backstroke
3 Hulton Chicoine Academy Swim 2:27.56
Boys 13-14 500 freestyle
1 Kai Hayashida Hilo Aquatic 4:54.24
3 Levi Childers Kona Aquatics 5:07.20
Boys 15-18 50 freestyle
2 Kaden Parker Academy Swim 21.21
Boys 13-14 200 butterfly
2 Kai Hayashida Hilo Aquatic 1:57.24
Girls 15-18 200 butterfly
2 Korrie Tengan Warrior Aquatic 2:05.45
Boys 11-12 5o freestyle
1 Nathaniel Rose Kona Dolphins 23.47
Boys 11-12 100 butterfly
1 Nathaniel Rose Kona Dolphins 59.14
Boys 13-14 200 breaststroke
3 Kouske Soler Academy Swim 2:24.27
Girls 15-18 200 breaststroke
1 Korrie Tengan Warrior Aquatic 2:22.34