By Jeff Vorva | Photos by Jeff Vorva

Here’s how good Hinsdale Central’s Josh Bey is.

He finished sixth in the world – THE WORLD – in the 200-yard breast stroke with a time of 2 minutes 14.56 seconds in September in Netanya, Israel at the World Junior Swimming Championships.

And he was emotionally crushed.

While many would think that was an impressive effort, Bey was so devastated that on Feb. 24, the day of the Illinois High School Association state swim meet finals, he knew exactly how many days it was when he had what he called a “really harsh” race in Israel that played with his mind for a while.

“My basic principles for swimming have been to take a race as fast as you can and give it all you got,” Bey said at the state meet. “When I did that in Israel, I was in second place in the last length of the swim, and my body just fell apart, and I lost it all. I went from second down to sixth. It was really harsh. It put me through a lot of stuff. It was 170 days ago – I’ve been counting. And throughout those 170 days I’ve been doing whatever it takes to get back to where I was. I was just scared to go hard at a race again.”

“My basic principles for swimming have been to take a race as fast as you can and give it all you got.”

– Josh Bey

But he built himself up and went back to his old principles. He was a part of three state records at the state meet, which took place at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont. He was a huge part of the Red Devils winning their 20th state title as they racked up a state-record 337.5 points, way ahead of runner-up New Trier’s 210.5.

Hinsdale Central’s Brody Marcet reacts after helping his 200 medley relay team set a state record.

“I decided to face my fears,” Bey said of reverting back to his old style. “It paid off, and I’m really happy about that. It’s really emotional, but I’m really happy.”

Bey, a junior who verbally committed to Indiana, set a state record in the 100 breaststroke with a :52.98 and 200 individual medley with a 1:44.89. He was also the first man up on the 200 medley relay team along with sophomore Matthew Vatev, senior Jeffrey Hou, and senior Brody Marcet, which set the tone for the day by setting a state record with a 1:29.13. Last year’s 200 medley relay team set the previous record of 1:29.40.

“That team had two beasts on it who graduated,” Bey said, referring to Vidar Carlbaum and Andrew Gilbert. “They were monsters. If you saw them, you would have thought they were seniors in college.

“Our relay was made up of smaller guys and managed to somehow beat them. And we’re going to keep better and better.”

For the Red Devils, this was the first time in the history of the meet that anyone ever had more than 300 points. To be fair, this was the first year of a new scoring system and more points were available to be gobbled up.

Time will tell if that 338 is going to hold up but for now, it looks like a score that will be hard to beat. Last year, the Red Devils won their first title since 2015 scoring 253 points.

“Our goal was to be better this year than last year, and last year was amazing,” Hinsdale Central coach Bob Barber said. “We had three state records. This team is also amazing, and we have a bunch of well-rounded kids who busted their butts to try to be as successful as last year.”

Bey makes winning and setting state records look effortless.

But even though his parents were swimmers, things have not come easy for Bey. He didn’t just hit the pool setting records.

“I was awful when I started,” Bey admitted. “I would go to meets and see all of these kids swimming and I was like ‘how are they doing this?’ After a year or two, I was like ‘Oh, I got this.’ It was like boom. The snap of a finger.”

The same thing happened at the state level and, as witnessed in Isreal, on the world stage as well. He had a chance to erase that memory some more as he was scheduled to participate in the USA Olympic team trials in June.

Meanwhile, Barber is happy to have Bey as a part of the Central team.

“He’s learning how to focus more, and he’s such a talented athlete,” Barber said of Bey. “We’re very fortunate to have him as a part of the program.” ■

The Red Devils swim team basks in the glory of winning another state championship.