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PIAA Boys Swimming: Brush with death gives Boeckx new outlook on states

Ridley senior Alex Boeckx poses with his medal for finishing fifth in the PIAA Class 3A Championships in the 200 individual medley Wednesday. Boeckx's time of 1:51.85 was almost four seconds quicker than his entry time.

LEWISBURG — Alex Boeckx wasn’t thinking about Bucknell Saturday night.

Not when he slammed on the brakes after starting to move his car into the intersection of Fairview Road and Jefferson Avenue in Ridley Township. Not after the car was hit by an alleged drunk driver, not when the airbags deployed, not when the car spun and its front end sheared off, not when he got out to take stock of his health and that of his friend in the passenger seat.

“I’d say if I didn’t react and I didn’t see him, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” Boeckx said Thursday.

The “here” was the Kinney Natatorium. And while a cancellation of Friday’s finals at the PIAA Class 3A Swimming and Diving Championships deprived Boeckx of his planned final high school swim, the Ridley senior still netted a second medal on the second day of the meet.

Boeckx was sixth in the boys 100 breaststroke in 56.33 seconds. With prelims converted, after the fact, to timed finals, the Rider commit ends his career with four state medals, including fifth-place in Wednesday’s 200 individual medley.

It seemed a distant dream Saturday, when a food run turned into a worst nightmare, not for a swimmer or athlete but any teen. From the photos of his car, with the front end of the sedan mangled off, Boeckx understands just how close he was to serious injury, a distance of about three feet. In terms of time, the difference was less than the precious hundredths of a second he makes assaults on in the pool.

But instead of tragedy, he and his friend walked away physically unscathed.

“When it happened, it kind of messed with my head,” Boeckx said. “Especially right before states, it really messed me up. I’m just happy that I still came in ready to go and had to come in focused on my mindset and get it all together and not really focus on what happened.”

Boeckx was on his game Thursday, even without knowing that it would be his only chance. He trimmed a second and a half from his entry time. Though he didn’t get a chance to take aim at three swimmers within four-tenths of his prelims swim, he’s gained a larger perspective this week.

“Coming close to death, it really makes you think you’ve got to live every day like it’s your last day,” Boeckx said. “It can be taken away from you just like that. Coming into this meet, and getting the A finals in both of my events, it’s incredible that I could come back after something like that.”

• • •

Boeckx leaves Bucknell as Delco’s lone swimming medalist, though Thursday provided four consolation-final swims. The boys, however, left the arena before learning that finals would be scrapped.

Haverford’s Zach Given dropped a second from districts to take 13th in the 100 backstroke in 51.36. Penncrest’s Steven Woolery just missed finals in 19th (52.09). The 100 breast featured Marple Newtown’s Williams Thomas and Garnet Valley’s Aidan Zipf in 10th and 14th, respectively. Radnor’s 400 free relay grabbed the 16th spot in prelims in 3:13.95.

Neither swimmer in the 500 — Radnor’s Rhett Cosgrove (20th) and Garnet Valley’s Matthew Hurford (26th) — was able to drop time from districts or make finals.

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