North Canton Hoover senior Stephen Watson has committed to continue his academic and swimming careers at Ohio State University.
Watson is a Division I state qualifier for the fourth year in a row in multiple events. He will compete in the 50-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay at C.T. Branin Natatorium this weekend in Canton.
“He is a sprinter with the 50 and 100, and the Ohio State coaches will have to figure out what his third [individual] event might be,” Hoover coach Matthew Johnsen said.
Watson finished ninth in the 50 freestyle at the state meet as a junior and was on three Vikings relays that placed second in the state meet (200 freestyle relay as a sophomore and junior and 400 freestyle relay as a junior).
Watson said he was considering Michigan State and Villanova before deciding on the Buckeyes.
“I just felt most at home there,” Watson said.
Watson, who is 18 and 6-foot-2, said he has been swimming since age 6.
“I am really excited for this weekend’s state meet because Branin is pretty much our second home,” Watson said. “We go there a lot for different meets, and I think it gives us an advantage over other schools that are from the southern portion of the state. My goal is to get on the podium, place as high as I can and have fun. I want to go out with a bang and get my fastest times.”
Johnsen said Watson holds three school records, the 50 freestyle (20.65 seconds), the 200 freestyle relay (1:23.94) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:05.92).
“Stephen has a very bright future in front of him in college,” Johnsen said. “He has improved every year. He can do things now as a senior that I wouldn’t have asked of him as a freshman.”
Watson won the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle district titles at Cleveland State University’s Busbey Natatorium on Saturday.