Friday, June 24, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Old Shark makes trials

Leader sports editor

Dramatic improvement since becoming a college swimmer culminated in Sherwood’s Christopher Heye qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 200-meter breaststroke. Heye will be in Omaha, Neb., next week, competing for a spot on the United States Olympic team in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Heye met the qualifying standard just two weeks before the trials at the Columbia Swim Club Invitational at the University of Missouri. The Missouri State sophomore set the goal at the beginning of his college season. At the CSC meet, he beat the standard of 2:18.39 by eight one-hundredths of a second.

“It had been my goal all season,” said Heye, who started competitive swimming at 4-years old for the Sherwood Sharks. “My coaches and I talked about it. We knew that it was an attainable thing for me to do. We spent all year training for it, and I thought I had a pretty good chance.”

Not much was expected of Heye early in his career at MSU, but since getting to college, he has shaved five seconds off his time in the 200-yard breaststroke and seven seconds off his 400-yard individual medley.

He finished third in the Mid-American Conference meet in the 200 breast, and second in the 400 IM this year.

“I came in as someone who was expected to be a step swimmer, a kind of a role guy,” Heye said. “After two years I’ve improved to the point where I’m one of the key guys on the team. Typically when you get to college you don’t see huge improvements. I think they’re a little surprised at how well I did.”

Heye got to train alongside an Olympian all season, and says that helped tremendously. His MSU Bear teammate Uvis Kalnins competed for the Latvian national team in 2012.

Heye is a long shot to become an Olympian. The nation’s fastest swimmers are a few seconds faster than Heye’s personal best, but he’s going to soak in the experience.

“”It’s just an experience thing for me,” Heye said. “I’ll probably have to go around 2:09 to make the Olympic team. You have to finish in the top two in your event to make it. My goal is to go there, try to go up in places, swim a personal best, maybe win my heat and represent my club and my university the best I can.”

Trials will be a fun and invaluable experience, but Heye is looking forward to another, even better experience at the start of the next college season.

That’s when little brother Thomas will join him on the Bears’ swim team as a freshman.

“Him coming up there is going to be so nice,” Christopher Heye said. “I love having him around. We grew up swimming together all the time and training with him at this level him is going to be a lot of fun.”

Heye is a chemistry major at MSU. He holds a 3.7 GPA and was named an NCAA scholar athlete this past season. He is currently training with the Arkansas Dolphins swim team in Little Rock.

The Olympic trials begin on Sunday. Heye’s event will be on Wednesday.

All prelims and finals will be broadcast online at, and available on the NBC Sports app.