STERLING – Keanu Interone didn't want to be just another swimmer in an overpopulated pool.
With that logic, the Sterling senior signed his letter of intent Wednesday to swim at the University of Utah. Also on Wednesday, Sterling senior Jenn Rahn officially committed to Iowa's rowing program by signing a letter of intent.
He picked the Utes over Ohio State University, despite his family's ties to the Buckeyes' longtime head coach, Bill Lawdley.
"My parents attended some of his camps back when they swam," Interone said. "But at Utah, the coaches told me I was going to be a program-changer. Going to Ohio State, I was just going to be another program-filler."
After filling out numerous recruiting questionnaires over the summer, a visit to Salt Lake City two weekends ago was the lynchpin.
"I definitely got a really good feel in Utah," Interone said. "It was out in the open, with mountains all over the place. I want the whole experience there, not just athletics, but academics and that lifestyle, that West Coast lifestyle."
Interone is excited he'll get to travel to California several times each season, as well as Las Vegas, for meets.
The Utes joined the Pac-12 in July, 2011, and the men's team took fifth at the conference championship this past March.
"They're trying to build up their team, and I want to be part of that building process," Interone said. "I've always kind of been part of the underdog team. The Chicago high schools have 20 kids who go to the state meet. And I'm there by myself. I feel like it makes it a lot more special."
With the big decision out of the way, Interone is ready to enter his senior season relaxed. He admits he's been rather consumed by the stress of trying to consistently show well and impress potential college destinations.
With that no longer a factor, imagine what might unfold in a few months at the state meet, where Interone took second in the breaststroke in February.
"I feel relieved of so much pressure. I can just relax and swim my race," Interone said. "You have to be ready to race, but you can't tense up, or you can ruin the race."
One person who never piled on pressure was Sterling boys swimming coach Kyle Ruiz.
"I've always talked with our seniors and told them that my goal as a coach is not to force anyone to go on and swim in college, but to know the opportunity is there if they want to strive for it," Ruiz said. "Keanu going to a program like Utah shows the ultimate goal of the program."
Despite having picked a university three times as far away from Sterling as Ohio State, Interone can rest assured his biggest fans will visit frequently.
After all, his parents are avid snowboarders, his father Carmelo even having worked as a snowboard instructor. He also attended the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
And to think, as Keanu Interone plowed through piles of recruiting paperwork, he nearly balked at Utah.
"My parents told me to fill one out for Utah, and I was like, 'Utah? I don't know what you're talking about.' "
Two down, one to go
• Sterling senior Keanu Interone finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke by just 11 hundredths of a second. His time of 57.55 was second only to 57.44 posted by Edwarsville graduate Maxwell Byers, who now swims at Penn State University.