After an extended period out of the water, Matt King is back training with an eye on the U.S. Olympic Trials.
King recently joined the pro group at Texas Ford Aquatics (TFA) after sitting out of the second half of the 2022-23 NCAA season, his junior year at Virginia, while dealing with a family matter.
King told SwimSwam that, after heading home for the second semester, he was out of the water for nearly two months and was forced to withdraw from classes at UVA. He said that he’s OK and that things at home have been getting better each and every day.
“I left school and I didn’t swim for almost two months, but decided after a while that I wasn’t going to give up on my dreams,” King said Friday.
When the opportunity to train at Texas Ford under coach Coley Stickels, who King briefly worked with during his freshman year at Alabama, King couldn’t say no.
“I was presented with this unique opportunity here at TFA to train with pros and focus on international competition, on a training cycle geared towards Olympic Trials,” he said. “I realized that if there was ever a time that I could do this, it would be now. This is me taking my shot. I am excited for what is to come!”
The 21-year-old King added that he will “absolutely be returning home to UVA,” but is currently contemplating taking a redshirt year next season in order to fully prepare for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials.
King had a standout freshman year at the University of Alabama, winning the 2021 SEC title in the men’s 100 freestyle and then earning All-American status by placing fifth in the event at the NCAA Championships. He worked with Stickels in Alabama for the first few months of the ’20-21 season, with Stickels resigning as the Crimson Tide head coach in December 2020.
King then transferred to Virginia and had a successful sophomore year that included placing seventh in the 100 free at the 2022 NCAAs and playing a key role in helping the Cavaliers set a new American Record in the 200 free relay.
King then had a breakout performance in the long course pool last summer, winning the 2022 U.S. National title in the men’s 50 free (21.83) and tying with Zach Apple for gold in the 100 free (48.44). (King also swam an even faster time, 48.33, in the prelims.)
In the 50 free, King ranked fourth among American men in the 2022 calendar year, while in the 100 free, he sat seventh.
King added that he’s comfortable and confident training under Stickels given his prior experience with him.
“My time with him was cut short before and I want to learn from a new perspective in the sport,” King said.
King’s current plan is to train and race at Texas Ford through the summer and then make a decision on next season after that. The pro group includes the likes of Miranda Tucker, Morgan Scott, Jacob Molacek, Marina Spadoni, Tyler Sesvold and Santo Condorelli.