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2021-22 BOYS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Owen Holland, West Forsyth
Owen Holland
West Forsyth senior Owen Holland is the Forsyth County News Boys Swimmer of the Year after winning the 50 free with a time of 20.46 at the Class 6A-7A state championships. - photo by David Roberts

Owen Holland is no stranger to championships.

As part of West Forsyth's relay teams, he helped rewrite both the school record book and GHSA record book, winning multiple titles in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.

All that was missing as he entered his senior season was an individual state championship. He got it in February, winning the 50 free with a time of 20.46 to cap an impressive high school career.

"Competing at the relay level was awesome. Competing with Jack [Aikins] and Griffin [Egolf] and Brett [Sasser] helped me get that killer mentality to want to compete at the top," Holland said. "Actually doing it was completely different, because I was fourth going into it and I wasn't sure how I was going to do."

Holland shaved more than half a second off his preliminary time in the 50 free, edging Milton's William Coady by four hundredths of a second.

Holland said the 50 free is his favorite event because of the adrenaline.

"It's crazy. You can't think," Holland said. "Every thing you do you trained for every day before, so every thing you do you don't think. You just go and hope everything turns out good."

He also placed second in the 100 fly with an All-American time of 48.66, dropping more than two seconds, while helping the Wolverines' 400 free relay tam to a second-place finish [3:08.23], drawing All-American consideration.

West's 400 free relay team looked different than in years past, with underclassmen Jack Murdock and Cade Anderson pairing with the two veterans on the team, Holland and Egolf.

"It was kind of different not having Jack," Holland said. "I kind of felt like I was that guy that Jack used to be ⁠— the anchor. We had a really good 400 relay. We have some young guys who are pretty good, and we got All-American consideration, which was awesome."

Holland racked up three titles at the annual county meet, winning individual championships in the 200 free [1:41.02] and 100 fly [50.06], while adding another as part of West's 200 free relay team that posted a 1:27.15.

Holland has been a swimmer for much of his life, starting before he was in kindergarten.

"I think I started to fall in love with swimming when I moved to Swim Atlanta, and the relays with Jack, Brett and Griffin," Holland said. "Performing at that level, it was just so much more fun. They pushed me and I got a lot better, too."

Holland will enroll this fall at the University of Cincinnati, where he will join a fellow Forsyth County alum.

"I got recruited by a couple other schools, but I know a former swimmer from Central — Tommy Eaton — and he's a good friend of mind," Holland said. "The campus is nice, they've got a really good team, they're going to the Big XII pretty soon, and everything just worked out."