For SK sophomore, it's life in the fast lane

It’s the age of specialization in high-school sports.

Perhaps no one exhibits that better than South Kitsap’s Justin Slezak. He doesn’t make hits on the gridiron in the fall or run track in the spring. For this sophomore, it’s all about swimming — specifically the 100-yard breaststroke.

At least it was until now.

Slezak added the 200 individual medley to his repertoire this season and ended up doing it well enough to qualify for Friday and Saturday’s Class 4A swim and dive championship at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

But it all starts with the breaststroke.

“It’s a little different because the breaststroke really is the only thing I’m good at, so I have to use that to my advantage,” Slezak said. “My fly and back aren’t too hot, so I have to catch up in the breast, which isn’t always easy.”

He might have some time for that now that he’s worked to improve his technique. Slezak said poor mechanics resulted in tendonitis in both shoulders and his right knee last season. He made adjustments during club season and said the shoulders and knee now feel strong. The changes have helped him lose 3 seconds off last year’s time in the breaststroke, which he now swims between 1 minute, 3 seconds and 1:04.

“His performance at the district and state level speak to his talent,” South coach Tami Lester-Dame said. “He’s up there because he works.”

That hasn’t been easy lately. Along with several of his teammates, Slezak has been affected by the flu.

“It really runs you down,” he said. “I’m just doing all I can to get rid of it before state.”

If that happens, Slezak hopes to place in the top eight in breaststroke, where Lester-Dame calls him “our go-to guy.” He wants to continue to improve in the breaststroke and the individual medley so he can show a diverse package of skills to collegiate recruiters.

When he’s not in the water, Slezak likes to work with photos in his design classes. He also accompanies his father, Roger, an electrician, to work sites. He eventually hopes to work as an architect or landscaper — perhaps both — when he gets older.

Until then, he’s busy in the pool.

“It’s an all-year sport,” he said. “You can’t take breaks.”

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