The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Junior Henry Heit splashes into UC Santa Barbara commitment

Dorie Xie
Henry swims breaststroke at a dual meet against Gunn High School.

In the pool, junior Henry Heit has seen all sorts of success, from being the Los Altos High School varsity boys swim team’s co-MVP for three years in a row to ranking 19th in the state for his graduating class. In May, he topped off these accomplishments with a commitment to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he’ll continue his swimming career training as a conference championship and 2028 Olympic Trial-hopeful. 

“I felt that UCSB was a school that I could make an impact at and have a great time with my teammates training together and just getting better,” Henry said. “Based on where I’ll be in my college junior year, I also hope to make an impact on the conference team.”

Outside of the pool, however, Henry is just as involved in the swimming world — a self-proclaimed “swim nerd,” he runs “This Past Week,” an Instagram show where he makes weekly recaps of elite swimming events.

“I’m really passionate about the sport and growing it however I can,” Henry said. “Swimming doesn’t get a lot of publicity in the media so I just thought that it’d be a fun passion project to try.”

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While past guests on the show have included his teammates and other elite high school swimmers, Henry has met Olympians and other professionals at major national competitions while creating content for his show. 

“The biggest meet I’ve competed at is the TYR Pro Swim Series in Westmont, Illinois back in January,” Henry said. “I didn’t do great at that meet, but it was an amazing experience. I got to meet so many cool people, watch so many Olympians swim and I got to fist-bump a lot of them, which was pretty cool.”

Despite Henry’s individual achievements now, his career was kickstarted 10 years ago by his sister Ellie Heit, ‘23, who currently swims for UC Davis.

Junior Henry Heit poses in UCSB gear. This May, he committed to Division I swimming there. Courtesy Henry Heit.

After moving to California from Boston at 7 years old, Henry followed Ellie to the Los Altos-Mountain View Aquatic Club (LAMVAC). Six months later, Henry appeared in his first meet, where he smoked his competition.

“I started because my sister did,” Henry said. “There’s this dynamic of, ‘I want to be like my older sibling.’ During my first race, I faced these other tiny 8-year-olds, and not to sound egotistical or anything, but I gapped them. That was when I realized this is really fun and I want to continue doing this throughout my life and see where it goes.”

After COVID-19 hit, Henry and Ellie transferred to Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics Dana Kirk Swimming (PASA DKS), a major stepping stone in his swim career. With consistently large graduating classes of DI-committed swimmers, PASA’s more competitive environment allowed Henry to elevate his swimming career to the next level.

“I was in a group with these really nice people, and I had a lot of fun racing them and just being a part of a team,” Henry said. “And that dynamic is what caused me to say, ‘Okay, I really like this and I’m going to take it a lot more seriously moving forward.’”

This view was reciprocated by Henry’s teammates as well.

“Henry’s very supportive of the people around him and pushes the people he’s racing in practice a lot,” Ellie said. “He always has something positive to say or some sort of feedback to give to the person next to him.”

Beyond the club setting, LAHS Head Coach Seth Tasman notes Henry’s contributions to the high school team.

“As a freshman, he was not the biggest guy on the team, but when he jumped into the pool he was one of the fastest and had amazing underwaters,” Tasman said.

Since then, Henry has qualified for the CCS Championships every single year on the team, including a fifth-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly in the 2023 Championship. 

Despite not competing at the 2024 Championship due to illness, Henry found success throughout this spring: he finished third in the league and set the school record in the 200-yard individual medley, and finished second in the 100-yard butterfly. In late May 2024, Henry capped off these achievements with his commitment to UCSB. 

Besides his technical skills, Henry is known by his teammates as both motivated and motivating.

“He’s very goal-oriented, so if I walk into his room at any point, there would be times plastered on the walls that he wants to hit in various events,” Ellie said. “As soon as he sets his mind to something, he’s very invested in whatever goal he wants to achieve, and not a lot’s going to get into his way.”

“Three words to describe him are hardworking, kind-hearted and reliable,” Saratoga High School sophomore Kelsey Zhang said. “Henry would always help me out with things I needed even if he had a busy schedule. I’m very thankful to have a teammate like him.”

Looking back on his swimming career and recruiting experience, Henry acknowledges the bumps in the road that were helped by his personal resilience and also his community. 

“If you don’t know what to do or where you’re at, there’s a lot of people I could easily reach out to look for advice, like my senior teammates and coaches,” Henry said. “[Advising my past self,] I would say, stay open-minded. You can’t be so dead set on one place or two places that you lose sight of your actual goal in the process.”

“He gets people excited as an athlete — he just loves his sport so much,” Ellie said.

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Dorie Xie
Dorie Xie, Sports Editor

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