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East Carolina University will be Zach Webb’s site for college swimming

Thursday, May. 8 | By Jeff Malmgren
Kettle Run's Zach Webb will swim on partial scholarship at East Carolina University --Photo by Adam Goings
Zach Webb has swum three events faster than any athlete in Kettle Run history.

Soon he’ll try to make his mark on East Carolina University’s record books.

A Kettle Run senior, Webb recently signed a letter of intent to join the ECU swimming and diving team next season.

“It’s exciting for ECU to get a swimmer like that,” Cougars coach Angie Smith said. “He’s going to be a big asset. He’s good under pressure. … I’m anxious to see how successful he’s going to be.”

Webb hopes to contribute immediately at ECU.

“I think they’re expecting me to come in and be a big player,” he said. “With my current times, I should be able to place in [American Athletic] Conference meet as a freshman.”

Webb accepted a 20 percent athletic scholarship offer from East Carolina after receiving similar partial offers from Arizona State, North Carolina State and George Mason. In NCAA Division I swimming, men’s teams are limited to 9.9 full scholarships per year, so partial scholarships are often awarded to cast a wider net.

Regardless, Webb eventually chose the Pirates over Arizona State because of its proximity and his comfort with the ECU swimmers.

“I felt like I fit in well,” Webb said after staying with the team during an official visit. “The team is a lot like me – laid back – and easy to hang out with.”

Webb first realized he had the potential to join a Division I team after he qualified for the 2013 USA Swimming Junior National Championships. College coaches began to show interest at that meet.

“It’s something I've been working towards since I began swimming” at age 7, Webb said of becoming a D-I athlete. “That makes me feel I’ve done something right for the past 10 years.”

Further evidence: Webb qualified for the Class 3A state meet in seven events as a Kettle Run senior. He competed in only four events, per VHSL rules, but he and Henry Patrick became the first state swim champions in Cougars history. They combined with Scott Heckathorn and Webb’s brother, Connor, to win the 400-meter freestyle relay. Plus, individually, Zach Webb won the 100 butterfly.

“It was exciting,” said Webb, who qualified for state during each of his four high school seasons. “It’s nice to come through and help my team out.”

The Kettle Run boys team won the 3A East Region championship and then logged its best state finish in history by finishing third. Webb helped by also placing second in the 200 individual medley. He, Patrick, Heckathorn and Nick Fallows combined to take second in the 200 free relay, too.

Webb now holds Kettle Run individual records in the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke and 100 fly, while his relay teams own records in the 400 free, 200 free and 200 medley.

“He’s a very personable kid,” Smith said. “He would just take another swimmer under his wing and help them out. He wasn’t afraid to be a friend of anybody. We’re going to miss that, and his talent, of course.”

Entering his college career, Webb considers the 200 fly and 400 IM his best events.

“The butterfly has always been my best stroke,” he said. “I’m good at the 200 [and 400] because I have better endurance than a lot of people. I’m not as good at sprint events.”

Academically, Webb plans to study criminal justice at ECU and hopes to work toward a career with the FBI.

His father, Doug, is a firefighter and his mother, Karen, is a nurse.

“So I had grown up around that type of person – kind of a public servant,” he said. “It interested me.”

Regardless, the opportunity to swim on scholarship in college played the largest role in his decision to attend East Carolina.

“I wasn’t going to go somewhere I couldn’t swim,” he said. “It’s something that’s been such a huge part of my life. I wasn't going to give it up so easily.”

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