Immediately after Justin Wu touched the pad at the Jenks Aquatic Center to end the 200 freestyle in the 6A state championships, the Norman North sophomore turned to check the scoreboard on the wall.
Wu was certain he set a state record. He knew from swimming the race so many times that he was faster than he had ever been before.
But when the scoreboard posted the time a few seconds later, Wu couldn't believe what he was seeing.
“I was in shock that I didn't break it,” Wu said. “I knew that scoreboard was lying.”
Norman North coach Kent Nicholson also suspected it was wrong by as much as seven-tenths of a second.
“It was brought to my attention by another coach who had a watch and said, “That is not what I got,'” Nicholson said. “It happens fairly often.”
A couple of minutes later, the official timers confirmed the time was wrong.
Wu swam the 200 freestyle in 1:39.13, breaking the state record set by former Tulsa Union Eastman Holloway, who is now swimming for Southern Methodist University.
It would be one of four gold medals won by Wu at the 6A state championships in February.
In addition, he defended his state title in the 100 backstroke and was a member of the Timberwolves' state champion 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays, the latter which also set a state record.
Norman North's Tomas Elder also won two individual medals and was a member of the championship relay squads, but Wu's state record gives him the nod over his teammate for The Oklahoman's All-City Swimmer of the Year.
Wu was shooting for the record going into the state swim meet.
“In season, there were a couple of times where I was within a couple of tenths (of a second) of it, but I was never able to get under it,” Wu said.
But Wu was well-rested entered the state championships as the team cut back on its workouts in preparation. He cut five seconds off his time in the 200 freestyle from his freshman to his sophomore season.
Wu still has a high ceiling. His skills will improve with more experience and he will get physically stronger with age, Nicholson said.
“He kept getting faster after state,” Nicholson said. “He is not going to drop five seconds a year, but conservatively he is going to drop four more seconds before he graduates. That record could go down quite a bit.”