Ricky Dungan may be peaking at the right time as he heads to the OHSAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championship Thursday in Canton.
It may not be enough.
The Wilmington High School junior had his best 500 freestyle race of the season last week at the Division II Southwest District meet at Miami University.
His time of 4:47.47 was better than his 4:48.63 at state a year ago when he finished 14th.
But despite the faster time, Dungan is ranked 13th going in to this season’s state meet at C.T. Branin Natatorium at McKinley High School.
“I have higher expectations this year,” said Dungan, who also qualified to the state meet in the 200 freestyle. “The finals is still my goal but that’ll be a hard goal to reach.”
Dungan admits last year was a unique experience as a first-time state qualifier.
“The experience will be, not less of an experience, but I’ll know what to look forward to, there won’t be any new things,” he said. “But the comfort level will be about the same because the times are getting faster.”
Throughout the year, Dungan had doubts about his ability to extend his swim season, if based solely on times.
“Until districts, I hadn’t had a good (500 free) swim,” he said. “I hadn’t broken 5 (minutes) all year.”
He noted a particularly poor performance at Southwest Classics at Cincinnati St. Xavier.
“I dove in and my goggles filled (with water),” he said with a big smile on his face. “I could see almost nothing. I swam awful, 5:30 something. So to see this taper working, I swim 4:47 (at districts) and it makes you feel good going into state.”
The district swim was pleasing because he knew right away he was on point.
“You can feel your time,” he said. “The first 50 (yards) I felt good and could tell this was going to be a good swim.”
Dungan said he believes his eating habits prior to meets may have been something holding him back.
“At sectionals, I swam not a bad time but not a great time,” he said. “We went back and looked at it. What have I done today? First, we had school. I never really do well when we have school. My body is so drained from school.
“Also, I ate Subway six hours ago and have had nothing since. My body was poorly fueled.”
Wilmington High School junior has qualified for the state swim meet for a second year in a row.
At the district meet, Dungan swam a 1:45.4 in the 200-yard freestyle and stands 20th among state qualifiers.
Last season, Dungan finished 14th in the state meet in the 500 free. He did not qualify for the consolation or championship heat in the 200 free last season at the state meet. His preliminary heat time was 1:47.79.
Shortly after the state meet, Dungan will swim for his club team out of Mason. He’ll then begin preparation for the ITU Age Group Triathlon Sprint World Championships in Australia this September.
Dungan, the second-ranked U.S. male in the 18-19 age group that will represent Team USA at the event, will compete in back-to-back days in both an Olympic triathlon and Sprint triathlon. The difference is the Olympic triathlon course is double the length of the Sprint course. The Sprint course is a 700-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and a 10-kilometer run.
“I need to get the (biking and running) fitness back that I lost,” said Dungan. “I have state this week, one more meet with my club team then my tri(athlon) coach who is in North Carolina takes over my schedule. It’s hammer time.”
Dungan will train six days a week for more than six months. To have a chance at reaching his goal of the podium at the world event, Dungan believes he must improve his biking and running times.
“In swim season, we swim six days a week,” he said. “Going into the summer (swim) season, that’s typically the same. This year we decided that I’m going to do four days (of swimming) a week. The main reason is that I’ll be able to get in harder, more intense run and bike workouts to try and get that fitness where it needs to be.”