Pallace used six-time Olympic gold medalist and friend Michael Phelps as an inspiration to ratchet up the intensity of his training prior to the 2003 -04 season.
The payoff has been well worth the effort.
The McDonogh senior and Perry Hall resident captured the 100-yard butterfly in the 2004 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championships for the second consecutive year. More important, he posted an All-American time.
His mark of 51.57 seconds was more than two seconds better than his time the previous season.
That performance gave Pallace a big dose of confidence. Now his goal is to break the MIAA record in the 100 butterfly (49.91) this season.
"My freshman and sophomore year I didn't train as hard as I did my junior year and leading up to this year," said Pallace, who practices daily with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club in Mount Washington and swims in meets there and at McDonogh. "My breakthrough is due to finally realizing I had to really work if I wanted to make a big improvement."
Pallace had the perfect swimmer to model his training after - lifelong NBAC swimmer Phelps.
Pallace worked out with Phelps at NBAC for about two years, and he noticed how intensely the Olympic champ worked in that span.
"It's sort of like having the best swimmer in the world next to you," Pallace recalled. "He came in everyday motivated and ready to do anything positive. He always came in ready to swim.
"That's what I took from him and put toward my swimming," he added, "having that intensity every day."
Pallace described his relationship with Phelps, two years his senior, as like a "little-brother relationship."
They would often play practical jokes on each other.
"I poured Gatorade in his boxers," Pallace said. "He instantly knew it was me. He would always take my shampoo and I would put honey in it, but he would see it coming out of the bottle."
Phelps got even.
"He put my boxers in the shower and they were dripping wet and had soap all over them," Pallace recalled.
With Phelps off to the University of Michigan this year, Pallace hopes to continue his mission.
Pallace will get the chance to do that in the MIAA championships Feb. 12.
Pallace finished second in the 100 backstroke and 100 fly in the MIAA as a freshman, and built on that success the following season by winning the 100 fly, placing second in the 100 backstroke and swimming a leg on the school-record 400 freestyle relay team.
As a junior, Pallace posted his All-American butterfly time, finished second in the 100 back and was part of two second-place relay teams.
McDonogh Coach Scott Ward can't forget Pallace's performance that led to the All-American time.
"That was a big point in the meet," the coach said. "That really changed the result of the meet for us. We were kind of struggling and that gave us the momentum."
Pallace's All-American achievement seemed to cement his status as a top-level college recruit. He has been talking to coaches from Penn State, Rutgers and Ohio universities.
"If he wants to swim Division I, there's no question he will," NBAC Coach Paul Yetter said. "It's just a question of which will be the lucky school."