Alex Valente is one busy guy.
The Dos Pueblos High swimming standout puts in several hours a day in the pool, carries a class load that includes three advanced placement courses, belongs to the school’s Engineering Academy and is a tutor in the program.
He says he doesn’t use a daily planner.
“I definitely cram last-minute,” he admits. “I try to plan ahead. I know what I need to do and get it done.”
“Get it done” could be his mantra because Valente is a student-athlete who does just that.
A few weeks ago, he pulled off two impressive swims at the USA Swimming Sectional Championships at East Los Angeles College.
First, he smashed the Southern California record for 15-16 boys in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1 minute, 44.75 seconds (The previous mark was 1:46.37, set by Young Te Seo in 2010). If that wasn’t enough, he later set an age-group national short-course record in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 46.99, besting the mark of 47.10 set by Michael Cavic in 2001. Cavic swam for Serbia at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China and finished second to Michael Phelps in the 100 fly by 1/100 of a second in the final.
Speaking of Phelps, Valente’s 200 fly time at the sectionals ranks as the second fastest all-time in the 15-16 age group behind the winningest swimmer in Olympics history.
Presidio Sports is pleased to recognize Valente as its Santa Barbara Sports Figure of the Month.
Valente recently returned from Japan, where he competed in his first international meet. He was part of a USA youth team, which it turned out was comprised of elite swimmers from California.
He won his first international gold medal, taking top honors in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 52.89. He also earned a silver medal as part of the 4×100 relay team and claimed a bronze as a member of the 4×100 freestyle relay team. He finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly.
Valente credits his Santa Barbara Swim Club coach, 2008 Olympian Mark Warkentin, with helping him have a good meet after the long travel.
“When I went to Japan, Mark told me to make sure I swim extra the first day,” Valente said. He said if you get (the jet lag) out of your system the first day, you feel better the rest of the trip. That’s what I did. A lot of swimmers (on the team) didn’t know that insight. They did an 800-meter warm-up and they didn’t feel great the rest of the meet. I was ready to go because I did a 3,000 that first day.”
Valente said he thought about being a distance freestyler when he got serious about swimming at age 13.
“After my first practice my coach told me I was crazy. He thought I’d never be a distance freestyler,” Valente recalled.
He worked on the other strokes and found the butterfly suited him best after doing well in a big youth meet.
“I swam a pretty good time for the 100 fly, and that’s when it clicked,” he said. “That’s when I realized that’s (the stroke) I’m going to do.”
Valente also is strong in the backstroke, but it’s the butterfly that is his bread and butter.
Valente will be swimming for Dos Pueblos this spring. His goals for the season include setting the school record in the 100 backstroke — he already holds the 100 fly mark — and win a CIF individual title.
SPORTS FIGURE OF THE MONTH
Each Month, Presidio Sports recognizes a local sports figure for their extraordinary contribution to the Santa Barbara athletic community. It is our way to recognize those who are making a lasting impact in our sports community, whether it is an inspirational athletic performance, a lifetime achievement award, or perhaps a great example of leadership. This award is made possible by American Riviera Bank