Gig Harbor High senior Cannon Coats has lived all over the country. Actually — all over the world.
Coats, whose father was in the U.S. Navy throughout the teenager’s childhood, has lived in Virginia, Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina and even Okinawa, Japan.
“Japan was an amazing cultural experience,” Coats said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.”
But his favorite place that he’s lived? That would be here, in Gig Harbor.
“The people are amazing,” Coats said. “The nature is awesome.”
Maybe it was the abundance of water around here that got Coats motivated to take up swimming. He joined the YMCA swim team during his freshman year at Gig Harbor.
“I just haven’t really stopped since,” Coats said.
And now he’s one of the Tides’ best swimmers, leading the fast lane in practices and getting closer to state-qualifying times every day.
“He’s brought a great example of hard work and dedication,” said Gig Harbor coach Mike Kelly. “He comes to every practice and works hard, does a second practice with Narrows Swim Club on most nights. He’s highly intelligent and very thoughtful in how he approaches his swimming. He’s always asking how to improve.”
That military background? That might have something to do with his work ethic, drive and discipline.
“He’s got a lot of maturity and independence,” Kelly said. “If you give him a set, you know it’s going to get done and get done properly. It’s not often you get a kid like Cannon, who is constantly sacrificing his social time and really focused on his studies. I think his military background forced him to make goals, have schedules. He has a pretty full life. Swimming is a really good outlet for the physical aspects of life.”
Coats is close to state-qualifying times in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100 butterfly (1 minute, 2 seconds and 54.50, respectively). Coats’ best times in the events are 1:05.2 in the breaststroke and 58.6 in the butterfly. Coats has been steadily dropping time during his high school career and has emerged as one of the team’s leaders and top swimmers this year.
“It comes down to determination,” Coats said. “It’s going to hurt, you’ll feel it every day but the results are worth it.”
If anything, Coats works too hard, sometimes. Kelly has had to ask him to dial back his workouts at times.
“I told him maybe he needs to back off on doing double workouts,” Kelly said. “At some point, you start breaking down the body to the point where it’s not a good thing. I know he wants to make it to state. He wants to have a really successful senior year. I expect with a good taper that he should see some pretty good personal success.”
Coats’ biggest goal is to break the school record in the 100-yard breaststroke of 59.96 seconds, set by Griffin Doane.
“That’s still a bit of a stretch right now,” Coats said. “Apart from that, I’d like to get first in some league events, do well in districts and get to state.”
If he keeps working at it, Kelly said he sees no reason why he can’t end up in the state meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
“He had some good drops in his season at districts last year,” Kelly said. “He has a proven track record of dropping some good time. Nothing can stand in the way of determination.”