Riverside’s HT Tragle wins two events, draws attention at Class 5 swim championships


Days before Riverside traveled to the Hampton Aquaplex for the Virginia Class 5 state championships, junior HT Tragle grabbed a bottle of hair dye. Along with a few of his teammates, he bleached his hair, which he fashions into a mohawk — continuing a tradition that dates from the team’s inception eight years ago.

“I love keeping our traditions,” Tragle said. “That’s what makes us a great team.”

On Friday, Tragle ripped his Riverside swim cap off his head after finishing first in the ­100-yard freestyle, revealing his innovative coif before hopping out of the pool and celebrating with his team. He won the race by ripping off a 45.26-second time, nearly an hour after he won the 50 freestyle in 20.93.

Riverside finished fourth on the boys’ side and 10th on the girls’ side, closing out the meet with 159 and 98 points, respectively. The Mills Godwin boys and First Colonial girls claimed first-place hardware.

Tragle had little trouble dominating the latter of his two races. After slapping the blocks three times and pounding his chest before the buzzer sounded, the junior opened a sizable early advantage with a 21.77 split. He coasted to the finish from there, securing valuable points for a Riverside team looking to surge up the scoreboard.

After the victory, Tragle pointed a finger-gun to his lips, spraying water from his mouth over his fingertips before exiting the water.

His 50-freestyle win, on the other hand, didn’t come as easily. In the shortest event in the sport, each millisecond mattered as Tragle dived in and began churning through the water. He took breaths on every other stroke for the first 25 yards before putting his head down and reaching for the wall in the closing moments of the race.

Tragle nabbed the win at the finish, out-touching Cox’s Carter Baum by just 0.13 seconds for the first of his two state titles on the evening. He was the only swimmer to break 21 seconds in the event, but each of the top eight swimmers finished within a second of Tragle.

“It was really fun. I had a blast with my team,” Tragle said. “My normal events are the 200s, and I love doing the sprint events in high school. . . . It gets me going.”

When Tragle finished the 100 freestyle, he turned toward his teammates, who showered him with cheers. Some of his friends donned T-shirts emblazoned with his name in celebration of his 17th birthday — which coincided with the team’s final meet of the season.

“He’s all about the team, he wants to have a good time, and he recognizes how fun it is to be around everyone,” Coach Joel Getis said. “Everyone loves being around him.”

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