By JENELYN RUSSO     8/22/2015

After a breakout year, swimmer Grant Shoults is poised to make his senior season at Santa Margarita Catholic High School one to remember.

The 18-year-old was named the 2015 Orange County Register boys swimmer of the year, backed by his record-setting performance at the CIF-SS Division 1 finals last spring as a junior.

Shoults took the top prize in both the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle, finishing with times that ranked as the fastest high school times in those two events in the nation.

“It was pretty surreal,” says Shoults of his memorable finishes. “I had these sets of goals and I hit them. It was an awesome moment.”

Like most Orange County kids, Shoults got his start in the water at a young age. What began as a sport he enjoyed for fun as a 4-year-old quickly became a much larger part of his life.

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“It wasn’t a huge commitment at first,” says Shoults. “I gradually began competitive swimming…and that was where it all started.”

In addition to the freestyle events, Shoults competes in the 100-yard butterfly for the Eagles. After years in the pool, he still loves the challenge of getting into the water each day.

“What I love most about swimming is the competitiveness,” says Shoults. “You still find a way to improve and get better each day.”

His individual winning ways aside, Shoults, who serves as co-captain, was impressed with how the Eagles performed last season as a whole, bumping their 43rd overall finish from two years ago up to sixth.

“I’m really happy with how the team did,” says Shoults. “For me to be captain, I just try to keep it fun. It’s a privilege to swim at Santa Margarita.”

The Eagles co-head swim coach, Ron Blanc, feels that Shoults’ best swimming is still ahead of him.

“Grant is one of those rare students whose incredible athletic gifts do not dwarf his humbleness and strength of character. As a result, he is a tremendous team leader,” says Blanc. “Grant’s accomplishments [last season] are just scratching the surface of his swimming potential.”

As a member of the USA Swimming National Junior Team, Shoults spent time last April at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, a memorable experience where he shared the pool with the best of the next generation of U.S. swimmers.

Outside of the pool, but close to his heart, Shoults serves on the Junior Board of Directors at the Jessie Rees Foundation, an Orange County-based nonprofit that supports kids throughout the world in their fight against cancer.

The Laguna Hills resident recently announced his commitment to Stanford University, where he will continue his record-setting quest at the collegiate level, alongside his pursuit of a medical degree.

“An important thing that swimming has provided me is a work ethic,” says Shoults. “I know I’ll always put 100 percent into everything I do.”