INDIAN TRAIL — Sun Valley High senior Kenan Dean closed his high school career as a state champion and one of the most accomplished swimmers in school history.
As the only swimmer representing Sun Valley at the 3A state meet last week, Dean single-handedly carried the Spartans to an 11th-place finish in the state.
He won the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 21.35 seconds and placed second in the 100m freestyle event (46.37).
“Nothing felt better ...,” Dean said of his state title. “Especially knowing how bad I wanted it. All my friends knew how bad I wanted it and I did it.”
Dean committed to a scholarship at the University of Tampa to continue his swimming career at the collegiate level the day before he swam in his final high school meet. He was invited to visit the school a month ago and see the program in-person. Right then, he knew he was going to take the scholarship offer.
“I knew (Tampa) was the one for me,” he said. “I loved all of the coaches, I loved all of the other recruits from my class … There was really no doubt in my mind where I was going to go as soon as I visited the school and got the offer.”
A three-time all-conference selection, Dean picked up an interest of competitive swimming when he was four years old. He began club swimming year-round at eight years old. He currently swims for Mecklenburg Swim Association.
With his high school career behind him, Dean has set a goal of qualifying for the NCAA Division 2 meet.
“Being able to make the NCAA championships in any event, any year is absolutely amazing for all levels of swimming and that’s one of my big goals,” he said.