Union swimmer sets sights on Argentina, Tokyo

Union High School senior Kai Legband captured two silver medals for Bermuda at the Caribbean Free Trade Association Games in April.

UNION, NJ — While many high school students have their sights set on graduation and college, one senior is aiming for an additional goal: the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Kai Legband is working toward swimming for Bermuda in Tokyo in two years — and he may have a shot. In April, the Union High School senior took home two silver medals in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle during the Caribbean Free Trade Association — or CARIFTA — Games held in Jamaica.

“When I touched and looked up at the scoreboard it was unreal,” he said in a May 10 phone interview. “It’s a great achievement.”

Legband — who has dual citizenship through his Bermudian mother — swam in six races as part of the Bermuda team, but freestyle sprints are his forte. He swam in March at the EZ North Speedo Short Course Championships in Ithaca and won both events.

It was just one of the many competitions he swam in this year.

The 17-year-old student regularly competes for Union High School and the Tidal Wave Swim Team, based at the Boys & Girls Club of Union County. He finished third in the 50 and 100 events at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in February.

One of Legband’s future stops is the October Youth Olympics in Argentina, where he will swim for Bermuda. He’ll need to shave six-tenths of a second off his best time to meet the 51.40 qualifying standard for the 100.

“I’ve been training a crazy amount lately,” he said, adding that he trains about two or three hours per day during training season.
Legband got his start in swimming at the age of 3, when his mother registered him for “mommy and me” swim sessions. He eventually started taking lessons on his own at the Boys & Girls Club of Union County.

Competition has taken Legband across the country during the school year, and the traveling is one aspect of the sport that he enjoys. He said he stays on top of his school work via email.

“With school it’s kind of hard,” he said. “But because it’s digital, they’ll just send me an email.”
The teen is considering two local Division I colleges — either the New Jersey Institute of Technology or Seton Hall University — since he would prefer to be closer to home in his first year, Local Source previously reported.

Two aspects of swimming attract Legband to the sport: the mental relief it gives him and, like any other growing teenager, the amount of food he gets to eat.

“Swimming is very therapeutic for me and a lot of other people,” he said. “It relieves my mind when I swim and I also get to eat a lot food, which is great.”

And his favorite binge food? Pizza.