Former William Byrd swimmer Khalil Fonder transferring from Arizona State to Virginia Tech

Former William Byrd swimmer Khalil Fonder transferring from Arizona State to Virginia Tech

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Former William Byrd High School standout Khalil Fonder is going to be swimming in Southwest Virginia again.

Fonder, who was a two-time Timesland boys swimmer of the year, is transferring from national power Arizona State to Virginia Tech.

“It’s going to be a good fit for me,” Fonder said Monday in a phone interview. “I’ve been a Hokie fan my whole life.”

Fonder has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He said he left the Arizona State team in January because of “mental health issues.” He headed home and finished the rest of the Arizona State spring semester by taking classes online.

“There was just some things going on with … certain mental issues. I came home,” Fonder said. “It was nothing [to do] with the swimming part. I needed to get certain things checked in with myself. So I came home, got the help that I needed.

“I needed to transfer so I could just be closer to home and to be under my support system because they helped me so much through all of it.

“I’m doing much, much better.”

Fonder was on full scholarship at Arizona State. He last swam for the Sun Devils in a Jan. 25 meet against fellow Pac-12 and national power California, competing in the 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard medley relay.

He entered the transfer portal in February. He said he begin looking for a new school in late March, “once I started getting everything under control.”

Fonder will be on partial scholarship at Tech. He said he picked Tech over Florida State.

“With the [coronavirus] pandemic and everything going on, I felt like I needed to be closer to home,” he said. “I’m more of a family-oriented kind of guy, and being able to be around family and have that support, I feel a … lot more comfortable.

“I will fit in better on the team in just being closer to home. … I have a closer support system from there.”

Virginia Tech had tweeted Saturday that Fonder would be joining the Hokies. Fonder plans to swim the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke for Tech in the upcoming school year.

Fonder’s father, Doug, is the coach of the Roanoke-based Virginia Gators club swimming team. Doug Fonder and Hokies swimming coach Sergio Lopez Miro are friends.

Khalil Fonder owns the ninth-fastest time in Arizona State history in the 100 butterfly (46.15 seconds).

As an Arizona State freshman, Fonder won the 100 butterfly and took third in the 100 backstroke in his college debut against Southern Cal. He took third in the 100 butterfly in three other Pac-12 meets that season.

He finished eighth in the 100 butterfly and 14th in the 100 backstroke at the 2019 Pac-12 championships. He competed in the 400 medley relay at the 2019 NCAA championships.

“I was really, really happy with my freshman year,” he said.

He took second in both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke against Southern Cal as a sophomore.

The Sun Devils are coached by former U.S. Olympic coach Bob Bowman, who gained national recognition as the mentor and coach of Olympic great Michael Phelps. The Arizona State men’s team was ranked No. 10 in the final Top 25 poll this year.

Fonder, who competed in the 100 backstroke at the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials, verbally committed to the Sun Devils when he was a William Byrd junior.

He won a total of eight state titles in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke in his high school career. He was a three-time All-American.

Fonder will become the second member of his family to swim for the Hokies. His older sister Jamie Spradlin Hill is a former Tech swimmer.

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