WILMINGTON — After producing one of the best swimming careers in county history, Will Barker hasn’t wasted any time making his mark on the UNC-Wilmington swim team.
The former Croatan standout has already broken the school and Colonial Athletic Conference records in the 200-yard backstroke with a blazing time of 1 minute, 43.76 seconds, which is six seconds faster than the previous record.
In the first week of the season, he was named the CAA Men’s Swimmer of the Week.
Barker posted the conference’s top times in both the 100 and 200 backstroke events in his first collegiate competitions for the Seahawks.
He swept the 100 back (49.69) and 200 back (1:50.79) as UNCW topped Army West Point 180.5-119.5 in its season opener on Sept. 17. In a meet against Tennessee on Oct. 1, Barker placed third with a time of 51.21 in the 100 backstroke and 1:50.68 in the 200 backstroke.
He continued the strong start to his collegiate career by winning the 100 backstroke in a time of 49.11 in a meet versus Duke and Boston College on Oct. 29-30. Barker also took second in both the 50 backstroke (23.0) and 200 backstroke (1:49.66).
In a dominating home meet sweep versus Delaware and William & Mary on Nov. 6-7, he won the 100 backstroke in 48.72 and the 200 backstroke in 1:48.43.
Barker is part of a talented 23-member freshman class that as of mid-October had top-three times or scores in 11 events among Colonial Athletic Association competitors. Five UNCW freshmen have been named the CAA Swimmer of the Week.
A three-time News-Times Swimmer of the Year, Barker won nine state championships in his high school career and posted 13 top-three state finishes.
UNCW won’t hit the water again in competition until after the holiday break, traveling to South Carolina on Jan. 15 and then N.C. State on Jan. 28. The Seahawks will wrap up the regular season on Feb. 5 at home versus Davidson.