A short time after it began, the coronavirus pandemic forced the CIF to cancel the rest of the spring sports season, which meant an abrupt ending to the high school careers of spring sports seniors around the central valley. As a way of honoring some of these outstanding seniors, the Sports Central team will be presenting a series of stories called “Senior Standouts.” They will air in sports at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of June, and others, like the story below, will appear here on our website.
Zach Welch was a 3-time varsity captain, who was a 4-year varsity letterman for the Exeter swim team. He finished third in the 100-meter freestyle in the Division II Central Section Championships in 2019. He also was a 3-year varsity letterman in water polo and basketball for Exeter. Zach plans on swimming at College of the Sequoias in Visalia next year.
School Organizations involved in:
ASB, Key Club, Young Republicans, one of the news anchors for the Exeter school news.
Describe the emotions when the majority of your senior swim season was cancelled?
I was really like, annoyed, and kind of mad, because I had a lot of goals and expectations for this year that I wanted to achieve. And I was more upset that I couldn’t do it, because one of my goals this year was, I wanted to beat two records for my school (100-meter freestyle and 50-meter freestyle).
How did you get into swimming and what did you like about it?
My parents started me off in swimming really young. I started when I was 4 or 5, so I’ve been swimming my whole life. I’ve been staying with it, because I’ve always generally, been pretty good at it. It’s really a calm and peaceful sport. You can really do it until you’re like really old. There’s really no age limit, so you can just do it forever.
What made swimming at Exeter special?
Well, Exeter, the swim program, has been made by Amanda Ogata, probably my favorite and best coach I’ve ever had. So she’s been one of the main reasons that I’ve really tried for swimming.
What was your most memorable moment swimming for Exeter?
Probably last year, when I was at Valley, when I got my personal records for the 50 and the 100. That was one of my favorite moments, because I was just so happy that I got it. And I just got to be there with my friends and the coaches.
One person that helped with your swimming development?
My coach Amanda Ogata. She’s really been like a second mom to me. She’s always there for me, if I need anything from her. But she just knows so much about swimming. She’s just so knowledgeable. I can come to her with any questions, and she’ll give me answers. She’s really been like a second mom to me. She makes fun of me, but I know she loves me.
What has life been like during this pandemic?
It’s been pretty boring, not much going on. Little bit of school, little bit of sleeping, yard work, boring stuff. I’ve been working out in my garage every now and then, but I don’t get a chance to go swimming, because I don’t have a pool. But I wish I did. I really want to be in the pool right now.
What Exeter swimming coach Amanda Ogata says about Zach?
Zach Welch began his senior season, prepared to break records and make a name for himself as one of the best swimmers to pass through the Exeter High School swim program. Posting a time of 49.19 seconds in the 100-meter free at Valley as a junior last year, Zach was ready to take his training seriously, and qualify for finals in Division I, in his final season as a Monarch. He is a four-year varsity swimmer and Valley qualifier individually, as well as on relays. He has been the swim captain since his sophomore year of high school. Coaches do not come across a Zach Welch very often. As a coach, you watch and learn about your athletes as each season passes. Zach showed strong leadership skills from very early on. He genuinely cares about his teammates and does what he can to help them be better. His ability to lead a team, is both encouraging and inspiring, and will leave very large shoes to fill, in our aquatics programs.