Jamestown boys swimming coach Matt Moore knew there was something special about Matthew Marsh from a very young age.
Moore coached Marsh for about three years in age-group swimming when he was 7-9 years old. There was just something that stood out about the young kid, that Marsh would be a name he’d knew he’d keep seeing at meets throughout the years.
Fast forward to 2016, and he was right. That kid, now a senior, is a three-time New York State champion.
Marsh won the 50-yard freestyle in an automatic All-America time of 20.62 seconds and defended his crown in the 100 freestyle with an All-America consideration time of 45.51 seconds at the New York State Boys Swimming Championships Saturday afternoon at the Flickinger Center.
“I’d say he’s definitely the best swimmer I’ve coached in my career,” Moore said. “He’s one of the hardest workers and obviously talent-wise top of the line.”
Seeded second in both events coming into Saturday, Marsh dropped .24 seconds off his 50 preliminary time and .69 off the 100 to make himself a double-winner, something only one other swimmer in the state meet accomplished.
“It’s the best ending to the season,” said Marsh, who’ll be swimming at West Virginia University in the fall.
The 50 freestyle started with a hiccup, a premature start by the official that only increased the anticipation from the maximum-capacity hometown crowd. It ended with a fist pump after he looked left to the scoreboard as he emerged from the water.
“I’m not going to complain because I won it, but I’ve never had something like that happen before in a final,” Marsh said. “In the 50 free I hit my start really well, so I was pretty sure I was going to do well in that one. But in the 100 free I died pretty hard. Last year I had more in me.”
Meanwhile, Hamburg’s 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay teams turned in some of the best performances in school history.
The medley relay team of sophomore Michael Maurer, junior Luke Kennedy and seniors Cody Wittmeyer and Kyle Griffin took third overall in the state and second among public schools with a 1:35.98, which is the second fastest time in Section VI history.
The freestyle relay team, consisting of the same four swimmers, came in fifth in the state and fourth among public schools after dropping 1.25 seconds from the prelims to finish with a 1:26.87. The quartet actually held a lead until midway through the third leg.
A switch in order was the main reason for that. Griffin, who’s usually the anchor, approached his coach about moving him to first after seeing other schools in the prelims put their fastest swimmers there.
“Those four guys are easily the best foursome in Hamburg history for any relay,” Hamburg coach Andy Godios said.
Griffin, who’ll swim at Canisius College next year, also swam the sixth fastest public school time in the 50 freestyle and the 10th fastest public school time in the 100 freestyle. He was the only swimmer from Section VI to make it to Saturday in all four of his events.