Ethan Suehiro is leading the pack

Cal freshman ranks top 10 in the nation among 15 year olds for the 200 yard breaststroke


Photo courtesy of Ethan Suehiro

Cal High freshman Ethan Suehiro comes up for air while racing for his club team, the Crow Canyon Sharks. Suehiro is ranked among the nation’s top 10 15-year-olds in the breaststroke. He joined Cal’s swim team this year.

Swimming, like other high school sports, is highly competitive at the varsity level so it’s usually juniors and seniors who make the biggest splash.
But every once in a while, a young athlete possessing great potential impresses everyone and pulls into the lead.
Though he’s only a freshman, Ethan Suehiro is already making a name for himself, especially in his dominant stroke, breaststroke. Suehiro is one of the top 10 fastest 15 year old swimmers in the country for the 200 yard breaststroke.
“[My accomplishments] are okay,” Suehiro said. “I can do better though. I won’t be satisfied until I’m at the top.”
Suehiro’s teammates and Cal High fans got their first look at his prodigious talent during the Grizzlies’ first meet on March 15 when he won the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:00:6.
This is the best time for Cal in this event this season. To put the time in perspective, it would have placed Suehiro 12th at last year’s North Coast Sectional (NCS) Championships.
And to think, Suehiro said he wasn’t pushing his hardest.
“I always think it’s pretty cool when a freshman comes on and puts all the seniors who think they’re pretty cool in their place,” head swim coach Thomas Pearson said.
Suehiro’s best time in the 100-meter breaststroke is 57.37 seconds, a whole 3.23 seconds faster than the time he got at Cal’s first swim meet. This time would have tied him for fourth in the section last year.
Though he’s on Cal’s varsity swim team, Suehiro only practices with his club team, the Crow Canyon Sharks. He already has a long list of accomplishments with that team, and hopes to start adding some during his time at Cal. He says he hopes to break the school record in 100 breaststroke, which is 56.81 seconds and was set in 2015 by Jacob Wooldridge.
Suehiro won two Far Westerns Swim competitions in the breaststroke last year, claiming the 100-meter short course event in Morgan Hill in April 2022, and the 200-meter long course in Concord last July. In addition, Suehiro qualified for Winter Junior Nationals on Nov. 5 in the 200-yard breaststroke.
“All these meets are really fast for which only a small percentage of swimmers ever qualify, so they are all pretty prestigious,” according to ReachForTheWall, a website providing coverage on swim meets and results.
In order to achieve these results, a lot of hard work is required.
“It’s pretty rigorous,” Suehiro said. “I think swim is a very underrated sport in terms of how hard it is. But it’s fun, of course.”
Suehiro trains with the Sharks every day before school at the Cal High pool, and after school, either with his club team at Crow Canyon Country Club or on his own. He goes to bed at 8:15 p.m. every night so he can wake up at 4:30 a.m. for practice.
For Suehiro, the hardest part of his routine is waking up early. But getting him to practice that early in the morning is definitely a family effort.
Suehiro’s father, Alex Suehiro, Sr., said that even though waking up before sunrise every day isn’t a parent’s dream, he and his wife do it because they recognize their son’s passion for swimming.
“Because of the dedication he’s shown us and the love for the sport, it makes it easy for us to get up that early in the morning so we can drive him to practice,” Alex Suehiro, Sr. said.
Though the discipline required to be an athlete at this high of a level is extremely demanding, Suehiro enjoys competing and making friends through swim.
Owen Berry, a senior who is on Cal’s swim team as well as the Crow Canyon Sharks, has been teammates with Suehiro for about a year.
“He’s kind of a quiet person but when he comes out of his shell he’s very fun to hang out with. He’s a very hard worker as well,” Berry said.
Suehiro exercises vigorously in order to maintain his ideal athletic condition. When he’s not practicing in the pool, Suehiro trains on his own by working out in his garage, helping him improve his strength and endurance. He works out his upper and lower body, focusing especially on strengthening his legs.
“Breaststroke uses a lot of legs so I take leg days seriously,” he said.
Added his father, “He’s extremely disciplined. He takes it really seriously, and that’s also with school and with his diet.”
To keep his body healthy, Suehiro follows a strict diet which relies mostly on milk, oatmeal, fruit, vegetables, and some kinds of meat for nutrition. He allows himself only one day out of the whole week to break from his eating regimen, which he calls his “cheat day”. On those days, Suehiro enjoys eating chocolate and burritos.
Despite his incredible talent, Suehiro doesn’t like to brag about his accomplishments.
“I try to stay humble about it,” Suehiro said.
Pearson has also noticed Suehiro’s humility.
“He’s a little bit more of a soft spoken guy and lets the swimming do the talking,” Pearson said.
All athletes have their role models and Suehiro looks up to his older brother, Alex Suehiro, a 2018 Cal High graduate, who got him interested in swimming. Alex Suehiro has been swimming since age 10 and competed as a Division I swimmer for Towson University in Maryland.
“He swam first and then I got into it,” Suehiro said. “He’s just a normal person who I want to be like.”
The two brothers are close, and though Alex Suehiro is currently attending college across the country, he looks back on their memories fondly.
“It’s been awesome to see how Ethan’s evolved as a swimmer over the years,” said Alex Suehiro, who also specializes in breaststroke. “It’s been cool to give him pointers and tips. Any type of knowledge I have he receives as well.”
In addition to his brother, Suehiro admires a professional swimmer named Reece Whitley whose dominant stroke is also breaststroke.
Whitley attended UC Berkeley, which is one of the schools that interests Suehiro. He plans to use swimming to get into one of his dream schools, Berkeley or Stanford. He hopes to be committed to a college by junior year.
Extraordinarily, Suehiro has only been serious about swimming for the past few years.
“I played baseball first and then I started swimming competitively when I was 12,” Suehiro said.
Now that he’s serious about the sport, Suehiro has set goals for himself this season, including winning the NCS championship in the 100 breaststroke. Very few freshmen qualify for the NCS’s and even fewer win.
But star athletes who possess both humility and impenetrable discipline are hard to come by. What makes them even more rare is when they show that they can be on the same level as older competition, like Suehiro has done.
Suehiro may only be a freshman, but has already won several significant competitions, qualified for important meets, and is now leading Cal’s swim team.
With all Suehiro has done, one can only wonder what he will accomplish during his four years at Cal.