Gorham grandson makes waves
The effects that the town of Washington can have on sports sometimes reaches beyond the city limits. There is a connection between Washington and athletic excellence found in the pool of West Des Moines Valley High School, embodied by Sam Gorham.
Sam, 16, has been swimming for the past five years, beginning in the sixth grade. He got his start with his local YMCA team and has now garnered himself some impressive accolades in his sophomore year swimming for West Des Moines Valley High School.
“I saw Michael Phelps in the Olympics win eight gold medals and I thought that was awesome. That was what made me want to start swimming,” Sam explained.
Sam won the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle at district competition, hosted by Southeast Polk, on Feb. 10. His performance helped Valley win the district championship and earned him Swimmer of the Year honors for his district.
At the regional competition level, he not only finished first in the 100-yard backstroke but broke the regional record. Sam qualified for the state meet in two events as an individual (50-yard freestyle 100-yard freestyle) and two more events as the anchor of relay teams (200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle). The other Valley sophomores on the team with Gorham are Beau Blazek, Carl Skoog and Ethan Eiler.
“I’ve been swimming with Beau, Carl and Ethan the entire time. We all started out on the same relay team for the YMCA,” Sam added.
On Feb. 15 at the state meet in Marshalltown Sam finished third in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.18, which was a new school record. Sam also finished third in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 45.69, which was good enough for him to be considered for All-American honors and the 12th-fastest time in the history of the state meet.
The relay team that Sam is a part of completed the 200-yard freestyle relay in second place with a time of 1:25.67. That’s the 11th-fastest time in state meet history and another All-American consideration qualification. The Valley relay team also took second place in the 400-yard freestyle relay at 3:08.78. That time was also good enough to be placed in consideration for All-American status along with the seventh-fastest time at the state meet ever. Valley finished third as a team at state.
As for whether or not he wants to continue swimming after high school, Sam says he is undecided about that. He will have at least two more seasons available to him to be in the pool for Valley, however, and more recognition is sure to come his way as long as he continues to improve.
Sam is the son of Dave Gorham and Angela McWright of West Des Moines.