Now that his brilliant college swimming career has ended, Parkersburg High School graduate Tim Phillips is about to turn pro.
Phillips represented Ohio State University for the final time on Friday night at the NCAA Division 1 National Championships in Austin, Texas.
In his strongest event, the 100 meter butterfly. he entered the meet seeded fourth. But once qualifying had ended, Phillips went into the finals as the No. 1 seed thanks to completing the event in 45.18 seconds, two-hundredths of a second better than Giles Smith of Arizona.
Ironically, Phillips managed to improve on that time in the event's finals, finishing in 45.10 seconds. But he had to settle for a third place finish as Florida's Marcin Cieslak won in 44.87 and Florida State's Pavel Sankovich finished in 45 seconds flat.
It is worth noting Phillips had the fastest time in the event by an American as Cieslak is from Venezuela and Sankovich is a Bulgarian, but that was little consolation to Phillips, who wanted to got out as an NCAA champion.
Phillips also swam the fastest split on Ohio State's 200 freestyle relay team, blazing his 50 yards in just 19.25 seconds. The Buckeyes, who went into that event seeded No. 14, managed a 12th place finish.
Phillips has used up all of his college eligibility. However, he still has academic work to complete before receiving his degree.
In the meantime, he officially became a professional following the end of the NCAA meet on Saturday. That means the stipend he receives from the United States Olympic Committee will increase. It also means he will be eligible to win prize money in future meets as well as accept sponsorships and endorsements.
Phillips will be heading to Charlotte, N.C., this summer, where he will continue his training. Like all swimmers, his ultimate goal is to represent the United State in the Olympics, which he hopes to do in 2016.
In the meantime, he will be competing in meets both nationally and internationally.
Phillips is a great representative not only of himself and his family, but also of our community, his school and our nation. He made a big impression at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012 and should be a major contender to qualify for the Olympics two years from now.
Every child who ever has swung a bat, kicked a ball, made a basket, or learned how to swim dreams of the day they will become a professional athlete.
Phillips is one of several examples from our community who has achieved that goal, joining the likes of Major League Baseball players Steve Swisher and Nick Swisher as well as Zak Boggs, who spent some time in Major League Soccer.
Very few of those who play sports go onto the professional ranks. But those like Phillips who have the talent, dedication and determination serve as an inspiration to us all and let us know it can happen to you.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org