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Justin Welch, a Winter Juniors-level backstroker and distance freestyler, has announced his verbal commitment to swim for California Baptist University. The native Californian will travel about 300 miles south from Clovis to get to Riverside in the fall of 2023
“While I was in route to visit CBU I had car trouble. Everything started to fall a part [sic] in a matter of minutes. When I thought all hope was gone to visit CBU, God made a way. By God’s mercy and reckless love, I was offered a ride by a family-friend in the area and I couldn’t be more excited nor could I turn it down. When I arrived on campus, God laid in on my heart that CBU was my home for the next couple of years.
“With that being said, I would like to thank my coaches, family, and friends who helped me be where I am today. Special thanks to Coach Mark Bennett, Dave Pickford, Jim Bossert, and my high school coaches Nic Maes, Garrett Pickford, and Sascha Ludwig. Thank you to Clovis Swim Club and all my teammates. I couldn’t have done this without you all and would not be the man I am today without my parents and God.
“Thank you to Rick Rowland, the CBU Staff, and the team for this opportunity and making me feel welcome. Let’s make some noise in the WAC! Lance Up!”
Welch, who graduated from Buchanan High School in Fresno in 2021, told SwimSwam that he is a first-generation college student in his family.
After taking a five-year break from swimming, he returned to the sport in his sophomore year of high school and qualified for CIF in the 100 back. In his senior year, he placed second in the 100 back and fifth in the 200 IM at CIF. He also swam on Buchanan’s school record-breaking 200 medley and 400 free relays, helping Buchanan to their first CIF Central Section title win in program history.
Welch earned two associate’s degrees from Clovis Community College in May, one in business administration and one in economics. While swimming for Clovis under head coach Kacy Ota, Welch set six school records, sweeping the backstroke events as well as the 200 IM and 100 fly. He is a two-time California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) All-American and most recently placed third in the 100 back at the 2022 CCCAA State Championships.
Welch took the 2022-2023 collegiate swim season off to save his eligibility and recently competed with Clovis Swim Club at the 2023 Sectionals in College Station. There, he placed 14th in the 100 back (50.39) and 15th in the 200 back (1:50.76) while blasting lifetime best times in the 50 free (21.69) and the 50 back on a relay leadoff (23.26). He still holds Clovis Swim Club short course team records in the 17-18 200 free, 400 free, and 800 free relays.
Top SCY times:
- 200 free – 1:38.95
- 500 free – 4:28.74
- 100 back – 49.94
- 200 back – 1:48.79
- 200 IM – 1:54.15
Cal Baptist competes in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in Division I of the NCAA and Welch already has WAC finalist potential in four events. His lifetime best times would have placed him third in the 500 free ‘B’ final, sixth in the 200 free and 200 back ‘B’ finals, and seventh in the 100 back ‘B’ final at last season’s championships.
Welch will be joining strong, young training groups at CBU. At the 2023 WAC Championships, sophomore Remi Fabiani placed second for the Lancers in the 200 free, freshman Mark Kovacsics placed second in the 500 free, and sophomore Simeon Rinkenberger took seventh in the 100 back.
CBU men are coming off a third-place finish at the 2023 WAC Championships under head coach Rick Rowland. Welch joins Andrew Teh, Liam Flaherty, and Alex Kowalski in CBU’s class of 2027 verbal commitments.
If you have a commitment to report, please send an email with a photo (landscape, or horizontal, looks best) and a quote to [email protected].
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