When asked his favorite memory from his almost four full years of swimming at Winfield, Keiser Witte paused and thought about all those memories, all those races he had won, the ones he lost, all the hours in the water, the travel and time spent on this sport he’s dedicated himself to and finally formulates an answer.
“Last year at state was pretty cool,” he said. “But I’m hoping that Junior Nationals will be even better.”
For the Winfield record holder, the best is yet to come. What a tall order for someone that’s already accomplished so much. Witte is a school and league record holder in more than a few events, state champion and University of Missouri commit.
Witte said he swims an average of 6,000 yards per day. But with all the hullabaloo about Olympic champion Michael Phelps’ diet, Witte said he eats a normal amount of food every day.
It’s almost hard to believe considering his physical size. Witte stands around 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. It appears to be all muscle. His chest protrudes from wide shoulders into a slim waist and what appear to be quite solid legs.
“Keiser does do a lot of practicing,” said Winfield head swim coach Dustin Durbin. “He practices year-round. He gets a lot of swimming in with our high school and club team, as well.”
Durbin has been Witte’s coach for the past four years and has been the head coach for the Vikings for the past six seasons.
Witte swims with the Wichita Aqua Shocks, the team that practices at the Heskett Center natatorium at Wichita State University.
It was strong legs and fast arms that got him a few state championships (200-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle) and a couple AVCTL Div. II-IV records.
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“He’s cleaned out our records at Winfield,” said Durbin. “Those will probably stand for a long time. I don’t know that we’ll see another swimmer come along like him.”
Witte attributed his league records to the competition in the lanes next him. A member of the competition, he said, is a teammate on his club team.
“I had really good competition in the 100 (yard freestyle),” said Witte of his record-breaking performance.
Derrick Goodson of McPherson was in the lane next to him and took second place. Witte actually broke Goodson’s record at the league championships in El Dorado.
It wasn’t his 100-yard freestyle that he is truly excited for. It’s his 50-yard freestyle that hasn’t as much surprised, but more driven him, or so it appears.
“Even if you don’t want to train,” said Witte. “You just got to do it every day. I try all year to just get one time.”
That isn’t to say he constantly gets personal best times every instance he swims competitively. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
“I don’t get a best time at every meet,” said Witte. “I went two years without getting a (best time). Last year was the first I got a 200 (yard freestyle) best cut in two years. It’s just looking like it’s all going to come together (at state) for the 50 (yard freestyle) and 100 (yard freestyle).”
Just because Witte doesn’t set new personal doesn’t mean he doesn’t win.
“Anytime you have someone that is basically guaranteed to win, he’s going to pull in a lot of points,” said Winfield head swim coach Dustin Durbin. “He makes our relays better.”
The state championships aren’t the only thing in the crosshairs for Witte. For the third year, he has been invited to the Junior National swim meet in August in Orlando.
“I haven’t been able to go in past years,” he said. “But the opportunity has been there and this is the only time I have to go, so I’m taking advantage.”
The difference between first place and 32nd-place at a national meet can be two-tenths of a second.
“A bad turn or slow start can be the difference from going to nationals and not,” said Witte.
But for now, he is looking at the next meet, just like he always has. And that next meet is for a state championship, or two, or more.
“The guys that have beat me in past years were older than me,” said Witte. “So those guys have graduated and I really like the way things are setting up for me.”
Although he swims around 6,000 yards per day, he said that’s not necessarily the best workout he can get. One of the reasons he is excited for the next level at Missouri is because his workouts will be tailored to him.
“When I get up to Columbia (Mo.),” he said. “I should get faster because I’ll be doing a lot of sprint work.”
His ultimate goal is to swim in the Olympics, but first comes the state championships.