Nathan Rhea has demonstrated throughout his decorated high school career at Tulare Western that he is one of the premier boys swimmers in the Central Section.
The Tulare Western senior will now have an opportunity to show what he can do on one of the bigger collegiate stages in the Western United States.
Rhea signed a letter of intent to attend the University of the Pacific on Tuesday, and he will be a part of the Pacific Tigers men's swim team after he graduates from Tulare Western in June.
"I'm very excited and eager to go to Pacific," Rhea said. "[The campus visit] was a real good experience. I really like the school. I'm glad I'll have the opportunity to go there and swim."
The Pacific Tigers are thrilled to have Rhea as well.
"We're very, very excited to have Nathan," Pacific coach Peter Richardson said on Tuesday. "I've been able to see Nathan develop over the last several years, and he keeps getting better and better."
The Pacific men's team was ranked No. 25 in the initial 2012-13 College Swimming Mid-Major Poll. Pacific competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for swimming. The conference includes BYU, Wyoming, Hawaii, Air Force and CSU Bakersfield.
"Just the overall feel of the school," Rhea said. "They've got a great swim program, and one of the more diverse programs for the major that I want to study. Overall, it was the best fit."
Landing a swimming scholarship has been one of Rhea's primary objectives since he started swimming competitively as a child.
"It's quite an accomplishment for him and all his work over the years since he was a little kid," Tulare Western coach David Hodge said. "He spent all that time swimming when everyone else was on vacation. Constant sacrifice for him, and also juggling academics. This is quite an accomplishment."
Rhea (pronounced Ray) is a two-time Times-Delta/Advance-Register boys swimmer of the year.
He is also one of the top students in Tulare Western's Class of 2013.
Rhea is a two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American. He has a cumulative grade-point average of 4.3. Rhea plans to major in athletic training.
"He has definitely left a legacy behind [at Tulare Western]," Hodge said. "Besides all the records he's broken, the younger kids have watched him over the years, and have seen how hard he works. It's inspired them, and their work ethic has increased because of it."