By Logan DeLeon

SYV Star Intern

Keller Haws made the varsity swim team as a freshman at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, and he didn’t waste much time before making an impact.

As a sophomore, he broke two school records and was part of two more record-setting relays.

“One of my friend’s dads challenged me to set a new goal after he found out I accomplished my goal of making varsity as a freshman for both swim and water polo,” Keller said.

“I broke the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard freestyle school records, and I was a part of the record-breaking 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays,” he said.

Keller, who just finished his junior year, pushed his success farther this season.

“I re-broke the 100 fly record and broke the 400 relay and 100 free records on May 2nd at league finals. I re-broke the 200 relay in CIF on May 9th.

“I now have the goal of beating the 50 freestyle record.” His best time is 0.4 seconds short of that mark.

The butterfly is his favorite stroke, he said, because he enjoys the challenge: “Because it is the hardest stroke, it brings the most satisfaction.”

And he enjoys both the individual and team aspects of swimming and water polo.

“Breaking school records is the best feeling. (In) both of the individual records that I have broken, I have had an overwhelming feeling that puts me on the verge of tears.”

But if feels even better when you do it with a team, he said: “Having others there right alongside you the whole way gives you even more satisfaction.”

“Another one of the best parts about water polo for me is being able to assist my teammates in scoring. Or, having a moment where I know that another teammate and I are thinking the exact same thing during a game, and we each know what the other wants us to do, almost like our minds are in sync.”

He also takes pride in being part of the league championship water polo team for all three of his years in high school, being invited to participate for the fourth year in the Junior Olympics, and being named a USA Water Polo Academic All American.

“I am a USA Water Polo Academic All American because my parents have always really pushed me to get good grades, and being a good student athlete has been something my parents have always really stressed in my life.

“My mom and dad (Adam and Camene Haws) are really dedicated to my aquatics life, and every other part of my life too. I feel really awesome to have such caring parents. They drive me down to Santa Barbara for practice one or two times a week, travel on weekends for tournaments, and are always at my games.”

Keller has been swimming since he was 6 years old and playing water polo since he was 8.

“I started water polo at the age of 8 with a little club here in the valley that was run by Rob Kennedy,” he said. “From there I began getting more serious and began playing club water polo down in Santa Barbara.”

Rivalry plays a big part in the Haws family as well.

“Me and my cousins have a huge rivalry every year at the Santa Ynez High School alumni water polo game. … I really looked up to my cousins when I was little and I can remember going to their games. I always wanted to play water polo just like them.”