Portsmouth’s Keys signs with SSU swimming

PORTSMOUTH — Over the past two offseasons, Gerald Cadogan has done an excellent job of prioritizing and landing quality recruits from near and far.

Christian Keys, however, is a name that Cadogan has already done great work with.

The three-sport athlete out of Portsmouth High School will keep his swimming talents right inside the city limits, as Keys will suit up for the Shawnee State swimming program for the 2021-22 season on forward.

For Keys, the opportunity to swim for Cadogan at the collegiate level was an excellent opportunity that he simply couldn’t turn down — especially knowing the mission that the latter is on.

“It means a lot to me personally that Coach (Gerald) Cadogan sees something in me that he can build upon,” Keys said. “I want to become the best swimmer that I can be under his direction.”

At Portsmouth, Keys — who played football and baseball in addition to swimming — played fullback and middle linebacker for the Trojans on the gridiron, earning Honorable Mention all-OVC accolades in 2020 as one of four players on the roster who obtained all-conference billing.

He then swam in the 50 and 100-meter freestyles as well as the 4-by-50 and 4-by-100 meter relays as a sprinter in the water, and lastly — on the baseball diamond — helped the Trojans go 17-13 while playing third base and outfield.

The Trojans earned a berth in the OHSAA Division III Southeast District semifinals — after Portsmouth won eight of its last 11 baseball contests to close out the 2021 season.

“My teammates and coaches both really changed who I was from an introvert to someone who will say ‘hi’ to a random person and ask how they are,” Keys said. “My coaches showed me how to be a leader and how to be an example of what to do. I believe that I came out of all three programs as a better person.”

His time playing baseball at Portsmouth had such an impact on Keys that the incoming freshman, following the swimming season, wants to help Aaron Duncan — a former Portsmouth and SSU alum himself — in any role that’s required of him as a staffer.

“Coach (Aaron) Duncan convinced me to come to a few sessions and try it for my senior year,” Keys said. “I did and ended up playing. Coach Duncan and his assistants really made the sport fun and enjoyable for me again, so much so that I’m wanting to come back and help whenever he needs me to this year.”

As a swimmer, the future nursing major’s primary goal is to help put the SSU program on the map — an exciting thought considering the like-minded folks already in place on the squad.

“I hope to help accelerate the swimming program’s growth and put it on a good path,” Keys said. “I want it to become a staple in sports like basketball and baseball. I hope to finish my associate’s degree in two years’ time to be into the nursing field as soon as possible.”

For more on the nursing program at Shawnee State, please visit https://www.shawnee.edu/areas-study/college-professional-studies/nursing/nursing-associate-degree.

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