Jack Aikins, June Phang and Brett Sasser have marked each other’s milestones throughout their swimming careers.
It was only right that they were all together Monday afternoon.
The three swimmers signed their National Letters of Intent on Monday at West Forsyth High School, as Aikins signed with the University of Virginia, Phang signed with the Air Force Academy and Sasser signed with Florida Atlantic University.
“It’s really great, because we’re actually on three of the same teams together: our summer league team, our high school team and Swim Atlanta,” Aikins said. “It’s just special to share that with people I’ve grown up around and like so much.”
Aikins, the two-time Forsyth County News Swimmer of the Year, finished first in the 100 backstroke (54.59) at the 2020 U.S. Open Championships on Friday.
“It was a lot of fun,” Aikins said. “I hadn’t had much long-course training, so being in that type of environment with high-level swimmers and competing with people like-minded like me, it was special.”
As a junior, Aikins placed first in the 50 and 100 freestyle at the Class 6A-7A state championships, and he helped the Wolverines’ 200 free relay team to a record-breaking 1:23.74.
Aikins will join a Virginia program that placed second last season at the ACC Championships, the Cavaliers’ best finish in seven seasons.
“I just see a lot of potential in that program. Not only is it the No. 4 public institution in the world, but as far as the swimming goes, they’re the fastest-rising program in the NCAA,” Aikins said. “They went from not scoring to 10th in only two years, so I just see a lot of potential in them and I think they’re going to do me right.”
Sasser was part of West’s record-breaking relay team, in addition to finishing second in the 100 free and third in the 50 free.
Sasser said he’s bee interested in Florida Atlantic for a while, and actually decided to commit on Oct. 29, which is his birthday.
“It was a little tough in the beginning,” Sasser said. “It was a little scary, because some colleges stopped recruiting the Class of 2021, so it was a little nerve-wracking. I started reaching out to a lot more colleges, did some visits and everything, then FAU I guess just found its way to me. Everything worked out. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Phang also captured a state championship at last season’s state championships, finishing first in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.22).
Phang, who said she hopes to become a doctor after college, picked Air Force because of its balance between rigorous academics and competitive athletics.
“It was long process, I guess, because it started junior year,” Phang said. “Things were really different with corona, as well. With the support of my parents and my coaches and everything, I was able to find the right fit. I’m really happy with where I’m going.”
The three teammates will have one more season together, but Monday’s signing ceremony was a fitting tribute to the time they’ve spent together through the years.
“I mean, it’s really amazing. Me, Jack and Brett have known each other since middle school,” Phang said. “It’s been amazing going to all these meets, and watching Jack get from where he was to where he is now, and same with Brett. We’ve all trained together, gone to the same school together and hung out outside of school together. We’ve really been able to see each other grow up.”