Joey Gebhart can look back on it now and chuckle. But at the time, he was serious.
He wanted to play basketball for Boulder City.
“I played all through middle school,” Gebhart said. “My sophomore year, my (swimming) coaches talked to me about determination, and if swimming was something I wanted to do in college, I had to get down to it and pick.
“I’m happy with my decision.”
Gebhart never suited up for the Eagles’ basketball team, but he did develop into one of the top swimmers in the state. He is a three-time individual state champion and enters his senior season hoping to break the 24-year-old state record in the 100-yard backstroke.
“He’s confident, and he doesn’t get rattled easily so he doesn’t seem to fold under pressure,” Boulder City coach Sara Carroll said. “When the chips are down, he generally comes through for you. He’s a competitor.”
Gebhart won the Class 4A state title in the 100 backstroke as a sophomore and doubled up at the Division I-A meet last season, winning the 100 freestyle and the 100 back, which is his specialty. He set a school record in winning the 100 back at the I-A Southern Region meet as a junior, and his time of 50.74 seconds is the second-best mark in state history, according to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association record book.
The state record is 49.94 set by Brian Retterer of Sparks in 1990.
“It’s a high priority,” Gebhart said of taking down Retterer’s mark.
Gebhart is also hoping to break the 50-second barrier and possibly even challenge the state record in the 100 butterfly, which he admits is a tougher task. Jacob Luna of Coronado set the state record in the butterfly (48.72) in 2012.
The Eagles are not as deep in the sprint-freestyle events as they’ve been in the past, though. That means Gebhart might have to chase the butterfly record during the regular season before he switches to a freestyle event prior to the Southern Region meet.
“I’m going to try for both (records), depending on what (Carroll) wants me to do,” Gebhart said. “We’ll see how it goes during the season.”
Gebhart, who is on pace to be class valedictorian, will attend the Air Force Academy in the fall. He also was heavily recruited by the Naval Academy, but Gebhart had his heart set on the school in Colorado since sixth grade when a friend showed him a video about the Air Force.
Gebhart plans to major in electrical engineering and hopes to become a pilot.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind that’s what I want to try to do,” Gebhart said. “When I got the call I was accepted, I was really excited. It’s going to be tough, but rewarding.”
Gebhart is a team captain and one of a handful of key returners for the Eagles, who are expected to dominate once again in Division I-A. Boulder City also brings back Jared Smith, a Denver signee who won I-A state titles in the 200 and 500 freestyle, along with state finalists Evan Klouse, Adam Peterson and Sam Sauerbrei.
Boulder City opens its season with a dual meet against Tech on Saturday at Henderson Multigenerational Center.
“Our captains have all swum for a number of years, and we’re working on keeping the team close-knit,” Gebhart said. “We just want to show the dominance of Boulder City to the teams in that other division and show we’re not just slacking off.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.