Open Water Nationals Qualifier Riley Clinton (2023) Commits to the University of Hawaii

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Riley Clinton of Las Vegas, Nevada, has committed to swim and study at the University of Hawaii, beginning in the fall of 2023.

“I’m ecstatic to announce my verbal commitment to swim for The University of Hawaii Manoa this fall. I’d like to thank Sandpiper’s, family and friends for helping me on this journey. Go Warriors!”

Clinton is finishing up his senior year at Doral Red Rock High School and swims year-round for the Sandpipers of Nevada under Coach Michael Kinross. Clinton specializes in distance freestyle, having qualified for Open Water Nationals in 2022, and his best events being the 500/1000/1650-yard freestyles. The Sandpipers are renowned for producing exceptional distance swimmers including three 2020 Olympic medalists — Erica Sullivan, Katie Grimes, and Bella Sims.

Clinton had a strong 2022 season making strides in both short-course and long-course. In May, at the NIAA 4A State Championships, he swam top-three finishes in two of his three events, touching 2nd in the 200-yard free final in 1:43.28, and 3rd in the 500-yard free final in 4:44.18. In December at Speedo Winter Junior Nationals West, Clinton hit a best time in his 500-yard freestyle, placing 56th in 4:31.66. He also finaled in the 1650-yard freestyle, placing 10th with a time of 15:20.46. A week later at Speedo Sectionals – La Mirada, he lowered his 200-yard freestyle best time to 1:41.88, placing 18th in finals.

Clinton is arguably an even better long-course swimmer: he won the 800-meter and 1500-meter freestyle races last summer at Western Zone Senior Championships, hitting a Summer Junior Nationals cut in the 1500 with a time of 16:03.34. His 800 free was also a best time in 8:25.83.

Best Times SCY:
100 free — 48.35
200 free — 1:41.88
500 free — 4:31.66
1650 free — 15:13.12
400 IM — 4:05.03

The Hawaii men compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference, with their biggest rivals being BYU and UCSB. At the 2023 MPSF Conference Championships, the Rainbow Warriors placed third behind UCSB in second and BYU taking the title. One of Hawaii’s weak points at this year’s conference was their lack of distance swimmers, specifically in the 400 IM, and the 500/1650 free.

With his current best times, Clinton would make an immediate impact for the Rainbow Warriors in the distance events. His 200-yard freestyle is not quite competitive enough to score significant points so he would likely be swimming a schedule of the 500 free, 400IM and 1650 free. Clinton would have gotten 14th in the 500 free, with Hawaii’s highest scorer being Ian Venter in 11th, and only one other teammate in the event. He would have placed 16th in the 400 IM, another light event for the Warriors with only two swimmers in finals. 

Most notably, Clinton would have won the 1650 freestyle final by almost two seconds ahead of UCSB’s Taber daCosta’s 15:15.05. Hawaii had no swimmers place in the top eight in this event, with sophomore Owen Ngan being the highest scorer in 12th with a time of 15:59.79. 

Clinton joins versatile Californian Marcus Moore for the class of 2027. In contrast to Clinton, Moore’s strongest events are in sprint freestyle, adding more talent to Hawaii’s sprint group which racked up most of the points for the Warriors at 2023 MPSF Champs. This will be Head Coach Michael Stephens’ second season coaching the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and Wahine. 

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