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Higley Freshman Qualifies for 2020 Olympic Trials in Swimming

Keaton Jones

Higley High School freshman will compete for a spot on the world stage after he qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials in swimming.

This summer, Keaton Jones, 14, nearly broke the 13-14 age group national record of 2:00.97 in the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2:01.20 en route to going well under the 2020 Olympic Trials time standard of 2:02.99 in the event. He did it during the Arizona Age Group State Championships, held July 18-21. He achieved best times in each of the events he swam. He specializes in the backstroke and the longer 200-meter race is where he really thrives.

Jones swam at two meets in May and June and came within a second of the Olympic Trials cut four times before finally going under it during the finals of the Arizona Age Group State Championships.

Jones was in the water before the age of 1 and started swimming competitively at the age of 5. His dad grew up in California and Jones said that swimming was something his dad always wanted him to learn how to do. When Jones finally did learn, he loved it.

“[Swimming] is my life,” Jones said. “I do it every day. I love going. I love that feeling when you have a really good practice and come out and you’re feeling accomplished.”

Jones’ biggest inspiration to be successful in the sport is the one and only, Michael Phelps. Phelps competed in five Olympic Games between 2000 and 2016, winning a record 28 medals and 23 gold medals.

“He did the best thing in swimming you can do,” Jones said. “He swept events. He cleared the board. He set world records. He was a great inspiration.”

Jones is extremely honored to get a chance to at the Olympic Trials next summer, which will be held in June in Nebraska. But for him, the goal is much bigger than just competing at the Olympic Trials or even making the 2020 U.S. Olympic team. Jones wants to compete with the best.

“But now, (Olympic gold medalist) Ryan Murphy and those back-strokers … I want to be like them and break their records. I think it would be really cool to race against them,” Jones said. “I’m trying to get the 100 back trials cut before trials so I can swim two events there. Then, really my goal is in four years to make the Olympic team and see what I can do. I want to win a gold medal.”

Jones has a long way to go and a lot of work to put in before he can make these things happen. But in swimming, much like with any sport, you achieve success with the work you put in. Jones is willing to outwork everybody. Beyond club swimming and individual success, Jones is looking forward to competing for Higley High School and contributing to their success.

“All my friends have been doing high school the last few years and I kind of felt left out,” Jones said. “They talk about the high school meets and the experiences, so I’m just excited to be able to do that and swim on the relays.”