Standout swimmer Christopher Staka, 20, has withdrawn from the University of Alabama and returned to Aptos to continue training as he looks to transfer to another NCAA Division I program.

An A finalist in the 50-meter backstroke this summer at the Phillips 66 National Championships, Staka completed two seasons for the Crimson Tide.

“It didn’t meet my expectations,” said Staka, a former state champion for Aptos High. “I have nothing bad to say about my time at Alabama. I’m glad I got that experience, but it really wasn’t the right fit for me. There’s no bad blood.”

Staka said the distance from home was hard and that he experienced a bit of culture shock, but those weren’t determining factors to change programs. He said he hopes to pair with a coach and undertake a challenging training program that will hopefully help him reach the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Staka has been flooded with emails from interested college coaches after hearing of his release from Alabama. He hopes to make a decision on where to transfer by winter, after he visits a handful of campuses.

“The recruiting process is a lot easier than the first time,” Staka said. “I’ve kind of proven myself a little bit. I’m enjoying the recruiting process and being back home training. I’m super excited for the future. It’s going to be a great year for me.”

In the meantime, Staka, who won the 2016 CIF state championship in the 100 butterfly, has also enrolled in classes part-time at Cabrillo College and returned to training with Jim Triplett of the Aptos Cabrillo Swim Club.

“I think he’s on the verge of becoming a premier backstroker in the country,” Triplett said. “I think he’s going to show it in the next year.”

Staka plans to compete in more TYR Pro Series events this year. In those events, he’ll face some of the best swimmers the sport has to offer.

He posted a seventh-place finish in the 50-meter long course backstroke (25.13 seconds) and 17th in the 100 back (54.80) at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships in late July. Former Cal star Ryan Murphy, a three-time Olympic medalist, won both events.

“He’s motivated after placing at nationals, with all those big swimmers,” Triplett said of Staka. “And I think that excited him. He has the ability and drive, and when a swimmer gets excited they’re capable of great things.”

Staka took fifth in the 50 back (25.87), which was won by Canadian Olympian Markus Thormeyer, and ninth in the 100 back (56.71), which was won by Murphy, at the TYR Pro Series event in Santa Clara in early June.




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Staka helped Alabama place eighth at the 2018 SEC Championships in mid-February. He took 23rd in the 50 free (20.15) after posting a career-best 19.99 in prelims, 24th in the 100 fly (51.44) after posting a 47.61 finish in prelims and 33rd in the 100 back (49.90).

Contact Jim Seimas at 831-706-3256.

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