The 2018-19 high school swimming season was certainly a memorable one for Jake Walters, who broke the overall state record in the 100-yard backstroke and was selected as the 4A Boys Swimmer of the Year.
Additionally, the recent Sky View graduate shattered six school records — four in individual events — and BYU certainly took notice. Walters received a scholarship from the Cougars and plans on competing for a year before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“This means everything to me,” Walters said. “When I first started swimming, I wasn’t even considering or thinking about swimming in college. ... I did it because my dad did it in high school and I think I used it as more of a means to stay healthy and get exercise.”
This is the third straight year BYU’s swimming program has signed an athlete from Sky View, and there’s a decent chance that streak will extend to four as soon-to-be Bobcat senior Darwin Anderson is being heavily recruited by the Cougars. Walters and Anderson each won two individual events at the 2019 4A State Championships, and the duo propelled the Sky View boys to third place in the team standings. The Bobcats only finished three points behind runner-up Cedar.
Anderson and Walters have developed a close bond over the past two seasons, and Walters is hopeful his friend will elect to join him in Provo.
“It’s been a huge blessing,” Walters said. “My sophomore year I didn’t really have anyone to push me and that brought up some concerns, but then out of seemingly nowhere the Anderson family moved to Smithfield (from Wyoming). And they actually moved because he needed someone to push him too, so it was a win-win situation. Yeah, I really needed Darwin this year and he really helped me, pushing me to my limits.”
While at BYU, Walters will have the opportunity to once again compete with his older sister, Alexa. Alexa Walters shined as a senior for the Bobcats as she captured a pair of gold medals and one silver medal at the 2017 4A State Championships. Walters claimed the 5A title in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1 minutes, 5.46 seconds, which was faster than any other female competitor with the exception of the 4A champion.
“We used to fight like cats and dogs, but I’m looking forward to it because it’s been a while since I’ve really seen a lot of her,” Jake Walters said of joining his sister at BYU.
Jake Walters will also be reunited with former Sky View teammate Megan Brimhall, who just completed her freshman season at BYU. Alexa Walters and Brimhall swam legs on Sky View’s victorious 200 medley relay squad at the ’17 state meet.
The son of Ida and Matthew Walters didn’t start swimming competitively until shortly before his freshman year, but he certainly made up for lost time. During Walters’ three seasons at Sky View — his family moved from Box Elder County in the summer of 2016 — he was a eight-time state medalist, eight-time region champion and three time region runner-up.
Walters, who placed in the top three eight times at state, showcased his versatility by establishing new Bobcat standards in the 100 back (49.49), 100 freestyle (46.31), 50 free (21.16) and 100 butterfly (51.62). Walters and Anderson teamed up to lower Sky View records in the 200 medley (1:39.36) and 400 free relays (3:16.34).
Indeed, Walters has left his legacy at the Smithfield-based school.
“I take a lot of pride in that, but with a grain of salt also,” said Walters, who won all four of his events at the ’19 Region 12 Championships. “My motto is ‘hungry but humble.’ I’m always hungry for more, always hungry to get faster and break records, but I want to always stay humble and treat others kindly.”
The Smithfield resident enjoyed his most success in the 100 back, where he was a three-time region and two-time state titleist. Walters put together the best performance of his prep career by besting former Mountain Crest and BYU star Jake Taylor’s overall state record in the 100 back at the ’19 state meet. Walters clocked in at 49.49, which was fast enough to secure All-America honors.
Taylor’s old record was a 49.87. Taylor went on to be the best swimmer in BYU history as he broke seven program records, including in the 100 and 200 backstroke. Walters is looking forward to chasing after Taylor’s impressive times.
“I’m really excited,” said Walters, who plans on majoring in business and eventually earning his MBA. “I’ve actually been working with Jake Taylor. I’ve been his protégé and he wanted me to break his high school state record really bad, so I was really happy that I did that, and he was really happy for me. And I’m really excited to see if I can break his records (at BYU).”
In addition to winning three region titles in the 100 back, Walters was a region champion in the medley relay (three times), 400 free relay and 50 free. He was the 4A silver medalist in the 50 free this past season and his blistering time of 21.16 was the third-fastest regardless of classification.