Growing up, Lee’s Summit North’s Daniel Worth had a couple of mentors for his swimming career.
Ethan and Liam Bresette, two of the best swimmers to come through the North boys swimming program, lived next door to Worth, and Ethan convinced him to try swimming.
Worth started when he was 8 years old and joined a recreational team called the Stingrays. During his first few years, Worth said he was “not very good.”
A lot has changed since then. Worth has become one of the best swimmers in the state. He earned a gold medal in four different events – including two individual state titles – at the Class 2 Missouri State High School Boys Swimming and Diving Championships earlier this month.
Worth won the 200-yard individual medley relay with a Class 2 state record time of 1 minute, 50.18 seconds, edging out Lindbergh’s Tyler Lewis (1:50.58). In the 100-yard breaststroke, Worth broke the Class 2 state record with a time of 55.12 and nearly broke the overall state record held by St. Louis University High School’s Jeff Cummings, who set the record in 1991 at 54.78.
The sophomore assisted the 200 medley relay team (1:33.24) and 200 freestyle relay team (1:33.42) to state titles, helping lead the Broncos to a fourth-place team finish in Class 2. Worth earned All-America honors in the 100 breaststroke and medley relay.
In the Suburban Big Six Championships, Worth broke a conference record in winning the 100 breaststroke (55.96) and barely missed another in taking the 200 individual medley (1:53.10).
Because of his breakout season, Worth is the 2018 Examiner Boys Swimmer/Diver of the Year.
“If you would have told me I was going to be an All-American last year I wouldn’t have believed you,” Worth said. “I worked really hard this offseason.”
Added North coach Brian Ray: “We expected that from Daniel. He’s been working a lot, not only last season, but in the offseason. He’s also been swimming in his club events. He’s been focusing really hard in dropping time in the breaststroke. We had high expectations and he had high expectations.”
The Bresettes were a major influence on Worth’s career taking off. Liam, then a senior, took Daniel to practice every day last season. Liam helped Worth adjust his technique in each individual stroke.
“Any time I had a question (the Bresettes) would know the answer,” Worth said. “Let’s say it was a my first time going to a big meet. They would stay with me and make sure I didn’t get lost or confused.”
Last season, Worth swam with Liam, the three-time Examiner Boys Swimmer of the Year, in a couple of relays. During the Senior Night race, Liam decided to swim in the 100 breaststroke to try and break Worth’s school record. He was unsuccessful.
“He was trying to break the record I set the week before,” Worth said of Liam. “We just all were cheering for him, but I was kind of cheering against him because I wanted to keep my record. He didn’t beat my record, but his times in his best events would have killed my times.”
Liam, who was great at every stroke, couldn’t beat his protégé at the breaststroke, a race that’s been been Worth’s speciality for a long time. Even when he was competing for the Stingrays, that was Worth’s best event.
“I always placed high in the breaststroke,” Worth said. “After doing so well in it, I was like, ‘All right. I guess I am a breaststroker.’”
Ray attributed Worth’s success in the event to his extensive knowledge on the breaststroke.
“He has a really great approach to the details of the stroke,” Ray said. “Looking at every aspect of the stroke from body positioning to the pull out to the right timing of the kick and the way he manipulates the wall … he breaks down all of the elements really well. He really excels at getting the technique down as perfect as possible.”
It took Worth a little longer to get good at the individual medley until his freshman season.
“It was last year, when my other strokes started to progress along,” said Worth, who plans on swimming in college after his final two high school seasons.
Next season, Worth plans on swimming the same individual events at state, but is considering trying the 100 butterfly or the 200 freestyle. Even if he changes and ends up competing in a new event, Worth will have one main goal in mind – breaking the overall state record in the 100 breaststroke.
“I have no doubt in my mind that he will break the record,” Ray said. “He was very close this season and he had a substantial improvement from his time last year. I would be floored if he didn’t break that record next year.”