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Alex Petty-East High swimmer

Lincoln East's Alex Petty competes in the 200 yard IM on Feb. 10, 2018, during the Heartland Athletic Conference meet at Lincoln Southeast High School.

Alex Petty has become an adept juggler.

The Lincoln East swimmer seamlessly handles his high school and club responsibilities.

For the upcoming high school season, Petty will be among the favorites in the 100-yard breaststroke after finishing second last year in the event. The champion, Conner Funke of Creighton Prep, graduated, leaving Petty at the top of the heap.

"I just try to go out and do the best I can. There is a lot of good competition, in Omaha and in our conference," said Petty. "It helps that I swim year around."

Petty swims for Lincoln Select Swimming, which means he has the same coaching at East and in club with Jan Bidrman, a 1992 Olympic swimmer for Sweden and former assistant coach at the University of Nebraska.

"High school swimming is an extension of club swimming. High school gives the swimmer a great camaraderie, and it is prestigious to be part of a team," Bidrman said. "There needs to be a symbiotic relationship between the two.

"And for Alex, he has a chance to win gold. He needs to improve, because everyone will be improved. It's not all about a win, but about the training and preparation and getting your best time."

Petty turned in his best time in the 100-yard breaststroke, 56.88 seconds, in December 2017 at the Speedo Winter Junior Championships in West Iowa City, Iowa. He also clocked his fastest time in the 200-yard individual medley, 1:54.87, at that meet. In the high school state championships last February, he swam :57.11 for his second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke and 1:55.39 for fourth in the individual medley race.

"The junior nationals (in Iowa) was an exciting meet, with emotions running high,” he said. “Sometimes, you show up at a pool and everything seems right. Sometimes your stroke is just slightly off.

"Club has an emotional draw, because we grew up together and I've known them since I can remember. In high school swimming, it's something different. You are representing the school you spend six hours at every day. It carries a different type of emotion."

Petty, who said he adjusts his goals throughout the season, is willing to switch events, if that's what the coaching staff wants.

"There isn't a stroke I dislike,” he said. “Breaststroke and the fly, for sure, are my favorites. I'll swim whatever helps the team at the time.

"Breaststroke is the least efficient stroke in swimming. You have to be technically sound, so I break down my stroke to work on it. The catch (when the swimmer turns his hands to pull through the water) is one of the biggest parts of the stroke. If you don't get the catch, the rest of your stroke won't be good."

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