by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview freshman phenom Myron Shen won the 500 free and was part of two winning relays for the Wildcats who defeated Lincoln on Thusday.

The superlatives swirling around prodigious Westview freshman Myron Shen have set off a hushed hype machine around the Wildcat boys’ swimming program.

Could Shen single-handedly turn what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Wildcats into a banner season? Could Westview be even better than last season’s squad that took eighth at state, based on the strength of this confident freshman who’s already one of the best distance swimmers in the nation?

Just how good could Shen be in his rookie season, given this youngster could possibly win four Metro League individual titles at the district meet or mix in two relay events to strengthen an already talented Wildcat squad’s chances at a team crown?

Showering too much praise on an underclassman, or heaping masses of expectations on the kid, can be seen as excessive, but so far Shen’s lived up to the hoopla. And, his older teammates can verify that indeed, Shen is on his own level when the lights come on and it’s showtime to in the water.

On Thursday against Lincoln at Sunset swimming center, Shen showcased his skillfulness and startling speed, winning the 100 back (56.03), 500 free (4:54.13), while helping the Wildcat 200 individual medley and 200 free relay teams take first place as well.

“He’s a star,” said Kenneth Do of Shen. “By the time he’s a senior, hopefully, he’ll have taken some of those school, district, and state records. The future’s looking great for Westview.”

“He’s a legend,” said Noah Hofiens.

“He’s exactly how I was my freshman year,” said Alex La Rosa, who’s been to the 6A state championships twice, as a freshman and sophomore. “He’s all big and everything, but he can actually say it and back it up.”

Shen approaches his newfound status as a star on the rise with a silent swagger. He knows he’s good and that few competitors on the Oregon high school level can beat him when he’s at his competitive best. Shen wants to win the 500 at state and help the 200 individual medley and 200 free relays qualify for state. He’s already one of the nation’s top-10 best club swimmers in the mile and 800 free, neither of which are sanctioned events in high school swimming. Thursday’s finish in the 500 free would’ve been good enough for third at the 6A state championships last year.

Shen started out “really easy” for the first 400 meters of the 500 freestyle, jumping out to a 10-second advantage over his Lincoln adversary. But, rather than keep it on cruise control and glide to another cushy win, Shen went for it all.

“I decided to take it all out,” said Shen. “I wanted to beat the other people by as much as I could. I had a lot left. My stroke rate was super slow at the beginning, but the last 100 I decided to really increase the tempo.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview junior Alex La Rosa won the 200 free and 100 butterfly for the Wildcat boys swimming team who beat Lincoln on Thursday.

Thankfully for the Westview boys’ Metro League district championship hopes, Shen is not a man on an island counted on to carry four first places and supply leadership for the whole squad. Flanking Shen is La Rosa, Hofiens, Do, and Eric Xu, all of whom had standout showings against Lincoln in Westview’s 105-63 win.

La Rosa looked glassy from start to finish in the 200 free, gaining a body-length lead after one lap of the pool and distancing himself from the field with clean, smooth churns down the lane. The junior won the 200 free in 1:57.93, nine seconds against of Lincoln’s second and third place finishers.

“It was smooth sailing the whole way through,” said La Rosa. “I had a good first 50 and just held it all the way through from there. The faster I can go out without expending as much energy, the better. That way I have more left over for the middle 100 and everything left in the last 50. I hope to go as easy as I can, while going as fast as I can.”

The junior also won the 100 butterfly (55.01) versus Lincoln to score 20 team points for the Wildcats.

“Putting up points on the board for Westview is always good,” said La Rosa. “Personally, I felt I could’ve done a little bit better, but I’ll take the team win. The first 50 (meters) was kind of rough in the 100 ‘fly but I got it smoothed out in the second 50.”

Hofiens placed second in the 100 free (54.67), despite a slow turn at the wall and fourth in the 50 free (25.07). Hofiens said the turn in the 100 free usually determines the difference between first and second place.

“It’s a massive part of the race,” said Hofiens. “That stung to not get a good push but, other than that, I was pretty close to the guy in front of me. It was just unlucky.”

The 400 free relay of Hofiens, Do, Xu, and Brady wanted to finish off the Cardinals and send them home on a sour note. Their ambition came to fruition in the form of an 11-second victory over Lincoln’s relay, to cement a 105-63 team win for Westview.

“It was interesting as we went on,” noted Hofiens. “We were too excited at the start, but it was a good finish. It was a good ending to the day for sure.”

Do said Westview tested Lincoln a little bit with its first couple legs and simply lengthened the lead from there to a pool-length width or so. The four Wildcats, who are each established freestyle swimmers individually, hope to batch the solo talents into a district-contending team. Xu won the 100 breaststroke and was second in the IM. Andrew Yoon took second in the 50 free (24.28) and third in the 200 IM (2:11.97).

“I think we stack up pretty well in the Metro,” said Do, who also took third in the 100 butterfly. “Obviously, the perennial powerhouses like Jesuit and Sunset have established themselves in Metro. But, we’re going to keep improving, and hopefully, we show up at districts.”

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