MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — It was as good as Alex Walton could have hoped for.
Competing in his final Iowa state boys swimming meet Saturday at the Marshalltown Community Y, the Muscatine High School senior swimmer captured his six and seventh career state titles in winning the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke, tying Doug Felton and Travis Greenwald for the most in program history.
Walton set a new state record in winning the 200 IM, capturing the race title in 1 minute, 49.20 seconds, a full second better than the previous state record, and nearly broke the 100 backstroke record in winning in 49.18 seconds to cap his career the way he’d hoped to.
“I put all the time and effort into this year. All the effort and it all kind of came together in the last meet,” Walton said. “I accomplished what I set out to do at the beginning of the season. It felt pretty good.”
Overall, Muscatine finished 15th as a team with 32 points. Iowa City West captured the team title with 189 points.
The Muskies’ day got off to seemingly inauspicious start when the 200 medley relay team consisting of Walton, Hunter Petersen, Matt Sovers and Ian Hilbrandt was disqualified, something Muscatine coach Judd Anderson didn’t mind.
“I think things went very well. Even the first relay wasn’t a disaster. We wanted to try to push the envelope,” Anderson said. “We didn’t want to sit back and be conservative. We wanted to be as aggressive as we could be. We got caught between strokes.”
From there, Walton went to work, starting with the 200 IM, which he knew was going well right away.
“I knew it was going to be a good race from the first 50. The kid right next to me, [Pleasant Valley swimmer] Nick Staver, he’s a really good butterflier,” Walton said. “I beat him to the wall.”
Anderson wasn’t sure Walton, who was named the meet’s outstanding swimmer, could cut nearly four seconds from his seed time of 1:53.11.
“I was a little surprised he got the record in the IM,” Anderson said. “That was a pretty tough record and a long way to drop to get there.”
Walton, who attends Wilton, nearly broke the backstroke record, too, coming just more than three-tenths of a second away from it.
“I felt pretty good about that,” Walton said. “I don’t think I could have gone any faster in that race.”
It was Walton’s third straight backstroke title, one of five individual state, and seven total, titles that puts him among some of the best swimmers that have come through Muscatine.
“It’s nice to have all seven of them, it’s nice to have so many state titles,” Walton said. “To be up there with Doug and Travis is pretty cool.”
Muscatine’s 400 freestyle relay team of Walton, Petersen, Hilbrandt and freshman John Wieskamp, who Anderson said swam well considering it was his first trip to state and that he had to wait until the final event of the meet to compete, finished 14th in 3:20.31.
“We improved our time a little bit, which is always a plus,” Anderson said.