Overwhelmingly considered one of the most talented swimmers to come out of south Louisiana in recent memory, things could get routine, so to speak, for Andrew Knudsen.
After all, he was the top-ranked high school senior in the state, according to CollegeSwimming.com. He’s a scholastic All-American in three different events, was team captain for Fontainebleau High before graduation, and holds the same title for his year-round team from Franco’s Athletic Club in Mandeville.
And for good measure, he won a state title in the 200-yard individual medley at the Division I High School Championships last November, and followed that by winning that event and the 100-yard butterfly at the U.S. Swimming State Short Course Championship in February.
But Knudsen stays hungry. He wouldn’t have it any other way, and that’s how he plans to attack the Louisiana Long Course State Championship meet, which begins Thursday and ends Sunday at UNO.
Prelims begin at 8:30 a.m. each day with finals at 5 p.m.
“I’m going to swim it the way I try to swim every other meet,” the 18-year old said. “I want to go low. I want to swim fast.”
That’s nothing new for Knudsen, who earned his first state time when he was 8 years old. He will swim seven individual events at long course this year — the 50, 100 and 200-meter free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly, and 200 IM.
Of course, he wants to perform well at the long course state meet, but he admitted he has bigger goals in mind.
“For most swimmers, long course is the culmination of the season,” Knudsen said. “It’s the meet they all train for. For me this year, I’m not training particularly for long course, but for zones (to be held in San Antonio later this month). But sure, long course is very important to me. It’s a good base to see how well you’ve done and how prepared you are. You’ve worked all season. It’s fun, and your team is hyped up. You have to work hard in this meet to get to other places, like zones.”
The Louisiana Long Course Championship is a launching point for many of the state’s finest year-round swimmers. Hundreds of young swimmers and some collegiate athletes and assorted adults compete each year. They are the fastest in the state, and the progression from state championships leads to zones or sectionals — and perhaps nationals.
Knudsen won the 100-meter breaststroke at zones in Greenville, South Carolina in 2013. He’s not sure if that earns him automatic entry into this year’s zone meet, and it really doesn’t change his focus one way or the other.
“I train all year to do well,” he said. “I don’t get tired of it. I never have. That hasn’t changed, and I’ve been doing this since I was 4 years old.”
Knudsen will continue to do what he does best, as he’s signed to swim for Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina next season. The Division I program lured Knudsen after signing his good friend, Mason Hutchinson, to a swimming scholarship. Hutchinson is a member of Baton Rouge-based Crawfish Aquatics.
Knudsen and the rest of his Franco’s teammates finished eighth in the men’s standings at long course in 2013. Crawfish Aquatics won both the men’s and women’s competitions.
Knudsen said he wants to swim his best so Franco’s can have a chance at moving up the team standings this year.
“I want to swim well for my team,” Knudsen said. “I’ve been swimming with (Franco’s coach) Robbie Fritscher for four years now, and he’s one of the best coaches I know. I want to finish strong for him and the team.”
“I think we can go lower (than eighth),” he said. “I’d like to shoot for maybe fifth or sixth. Our swimmers are faster and stronger now. We can do well.”