Already a talented swimmer physically, Wilmington High School sophomore Ricky Dungan learned a valuable lesson last year that his ability in the pool will only take him so far.
After all, you have to get in the pool in order to compete.
Dungan missed the start of the 200-yard freestyle at the Div. II Sectional meet in 2016 as a freshman. That disqualified him from competition at the remainder of the sectional meet.
“I messed up,” Dungan said. “It made me want to come back with vengeance, put in more work to make it (to state).”
Dungan was able to reach his goal last week at this year’s district meet when he qualified in the 500 free and 200 free for Thursday’s state meet at Canton’s C.T. Branin Natatorium.
WHS coach Mitch Hopf said Dungan’s error of not getting to the start of the race was not well received by those around him.
“It wasn’t a great situation,” Hopf said. “Several other people were upset with him as well. He used it as fuel for training this year.”
The first step in that recovery process was at the sectional meet two weeks ago.
“It’s all about making up for last year,” said Hopf. “Sectional was big this year, making it to the block and getting to his event. It was like a big relief for him.”
Dungan admitted he took the extra step with his preparation for this season based on his misstep a year ago.
“I put in all the work any of my coaches mentioned or wanted from me,” he said. “I wanted revenge on the previous season.”
While making the state meet as a freshman was his goal in 2015-16, Dungan said he was more determined this year to make it to Canton.
“Definitely wanted to make it this year after what happened last year,” Dungan said. “It was a goal I had for last year but I missed my event and couldn’t go.”
Despite being just a sophomore, Dungan doesn’t expect the aura of the Branin Natatorium to be an issue.
“I don’t really get nervous. I’ll just take it as a normal swim meet,” he said. “I want to soak up all the events at state.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports