All-Empire Boys Swimming: Analy’s Knox is a natural in the pool

By MATT MORRISON
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Analy junior Jon Knox (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat

Analy senior Jon Knox (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat

Take one look at his pedigree and you have a good indicator that Analy senior Jon Knox was born to compete in the swimming pool.

“From a young age, I was around water because my parents were both swimmers themselves,” said the 2013 Press Democrat All-Empire Boys Swimmer of the Year.

His mother, Linda Stinson Knox, was a butterfly and backstroke specialist at USC. His father, Ken Knox, was a freestyler in his NCAA career that started at Tennessee and continued at the University of Indiana.

Jon Knox applied both influences in his record-setting junior year, lowering his own All-Empire mark in the 200 free (1:39.67 at the NCS preliminaries) and breaking the record in the 100 back (49.67 at the NCS prelims).

An all-around athlete growing up, Knox wasn’t groomed strictly for the sport his parents excelled in. He might have preferred swinging a bat or taking jump shots to swimming endless laps in a pool.

“I always was a swimmer, but when I was about 9 and 10 I was into baseball and basketball,” Knox said. “Then I watched the Olympics in 2008, with Michael Phelps winning all the gold medals, and it got me really excited. It was easy to get into swimming more seriously after that.”

An All-Empire first-team performer as a sophomore, there was little to prove going into his junior season, but always room to improve.

“One of the things I wanted to do was go 1:37 (in the 200 free) and get at least a top-five finish in the NCS,” he said.

Knox hit his mark with his fifth-place finish in the 100 back. An eighth-place performance in the 200 free made him the only Empire male swimmer to log two top-eight finishes at the NCS finals. His time in the freestyle was a couple seconds off the goal he had set for himself, only leaving more to strive for. That’s a constant in a sport where success is measured as much by a stopwatch as it is a place on the podium.

“That’s just the way things go in swimming. Sometimes it’s the way you want, sometimes not,” Knox said.

Knox was confident that if he reached his potential, the All-Empire Swimmer of the Year honor would be within his reach, though he’s quick to add it’s not the most satisfying accomplishment of the season. His best memories are ones he shares with teammates.

“This year was just so special because we did so well in the last year for (Analy seniors) Rebecca Baxley and Nate Kuhn,” Knox said of his graduate friends who are also teammates on the Santa Rosa Neptunes swim club.

“I was just so proud of Nate and I being the only (male) club swimmers on the team to make it to the NCS. And I was really glad our relay team made it too. (Sophomore) Jake Gibbs and (freshman) Spencer Purdue worked so hard and I was so proud of how hard they worked.”

Knox is busy swimming this summer for the Neptunes, taking advanced placement classes and considering college opportunities.

Since July 1, when the open recruiting season for incoming seniors began, Knox has heard from Princeton, Columbia and the University of Arizona. Knox hopes to attract more attention from other elite NCAA swimming programs that include his mother’s alma mater, USC, with Cal, Michigan, Texas and Florida also on his wish list.

SWIMMER OF THE YEAR
Jon Knox, Analy, Jr.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Laraine Carter, Healdsburg

FIRST TEAM
Kevin Mertz, Santa Rosa, Sr.
Tanner McDonald, Montgomery, Jr.
Nathan Kuhn, Analy, Sr.
Stefan Keller, Maria Carrillo, Soph.
Shannon Fong, Maria Carrillo, Jr.
Trystan Brown, Technology, Soph.
Mark Samet, Casa Grande, Sr.
Henry Steiner, Casa Grande, Soph.
Aric Lang, Rancho Cotate, Soph.
Curtis Shinn, Technology, Soph.
Ben Crabb, Windsor, Sr.

SECOND TEAM
Chase Campion, Sonoma Valley, Sr.
Charles Barrett, Ukiah, Fr.
Andew Yao, Rancho Cotate, Jr.
Roe Klein, Ukiah, Soph.
Michael Severi, Montgomery, Sr.
Taka Shimokabe, Casa Grande, Jr.
Cliff Tai, Maria Carrillo, Soph.
Daniel Virtue, Maria Carrillo, Fr.
Giancarlo Tarantino, Cardinal Newman, Sr.
Daniel Selzer, Ukiah, Sr.
Quintin Williams, Santa Rosa, Sr.
Evan Thompson, Clearlake/Kelseyville, Sr.

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