Coming off two top-five finishes at the 2019 3A state swim meet, South Iredell’s Joseph Moore told the R&L that the ultimate goal this season would be to win a pair of state championships.
He came doggone close to accomplishing that feat.
How close? A mere 14 one-hundredths of a second was the difference in him being runner-up and state champion in the 100-yard backstroke.
Moore did walkaway a 3A state title winner in the 200-yard individual medley, which features all four strokes. He finished third there in that event the previous year.
“I am honestly blessed to be given the opportunity to race at states and be able to have the chance to win one event,” said Moore, who repeated as R&L County Boys Swimmer of the Year. “Saying that, I would also commend the athlete and friend that beat me, Jack Meehan, for giving me the energy and drive to win the 200 IM.”
Meehan, of Charlotte Catholic, triumphed in both of those individual events during the 3A West regionals.
Moore was about a couple of seconds behind.
He saved his best for last.
“As a club swimmer, the regional championship is not a ‘play all the cards’ meet,” Moore said. “For regionals, I was wearing a regular speedo and the energy is a lot different. The finals session of a state meet is the most energetic meet that a high school swimmer can swim at. Along with the increased atmosphere I was also wearing a brand-new tech suit that made a huge difference in keeping my bodyline straight and fast.”
Moore won the 200 IM at state with a time of 1 minute, 51.57 seconds. It was his personal best time and earned All-American consideration. Meehan placed second at 1:51.95.
Gracious in defeat and humbled in victory. That was Moore’s attitude.
“Coming off of the two losses at regionals was not unexpected for his times are faster than mine, but it did make me want to win that much more,” Moore said. “Going into the finals session I felt like the underdog and I think we both knew that. However, I knew that as long as I swam my race then it would all work out. And speaking to the second-place finish in the 100 back, I would not rather have lost to anyone else, because Jack is such a nice guy. I was very happy for us both being able to win a state title our senior years.”
He is thankful the COVID-19 outbreak didn’t prevent him from pursuing his goal and completing his last season as a Vikings swimmer on his own terms.
Moore is very sympathetic to those who may not be as fortunate due to the coronavirus.
“The situation that spring sport athletes are in is very tragic,” he said. “I know that if I were in that situation I would do anything to be able to compete one last time. I personally know a lot of track athletes and tennis players and not being able to play must be very hard for them. As athletes that is all we want to do.”
In addition to his 200 IM state championship and second-place finish in the 100 backstroke, where he completed the race in 51.20 seconds, Moore helped the Vikings’ 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays to sixth- and seventh-place finishes.
Moore now turns his attention to the US Air Force Academy, where he will swim collegiately for the Falcons.
There he will be required to maintain a high level of academic success so that he can fulfill his wish to fly in the Air Force. He chose the Academy because of its “excellent engineering program” and the “amazing opportunities” it can offer following graduation. That entails five years of mandatory service and will likely turn into 10 years after going through flight training.
“But I am willing to make the commitment for the country that I love,” Moore said.
He will miss swimming at South Iredell, where he helped the Vikings win four straight North Piedmont Conference championships. He’ll also miss his teammates, whom he loved rooting for and to be rooted on by.
Being backed is not something he takes for granted.
“I would not be where I am today without the help and support of all the people involved in my swimming,” Moore said. “My parents have been especially supportive. But I give a lot of credit to my coaches at South Iredell and SwimMAC, my friends for their support, and my teammates for cheering me on at states.”