Ricky Dungan enjoys a challenge.
After two years of qualifying for the OHSAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events, Dungan added another event to his resume.
This year, Dungan will compete in the 50- and 500-yard freestyle events in the state meet Thursday at Canton’s C.T. Branin Natatorium. The sprint and long-distance event double is akin to a track and field athlete competing in the 3,200-meter run and the 100-meter dash … and not just at a Tuesday night tri-meet but at the highest level available.
WHS coach Mitch Hopf said this pairing “doesn’t happen very often.” But Dungan’s “dedication and training have prepared him well and I am excited to see what he can do this week.”
Dungan’s 21.99 second swim in the 50 last week has him 17th among the 24 state qualifiers. The 4:50.82 in the 500 last week ranks him 18th out of 24.
“It is very unusual to do the combo of the 50 and 500,” said Dungan. “I’ve swam for about 11 years now and I only know one other person who has done it. It’s an odd thing to do because, yes it’s the same stroke but the two swims are completely different beasts.”
Dungan said the 50 is “all out” from the start and one mistake can ruin the entire swim.
“So everything has to be perfect,” he said.
In the 500, there’s a thought process that goes into the race.
“I have to be reserved in the beginning and actually listen to my coach and lap counter to know if I’m going out too fast or too slow,” he said. “It has been a challenge for both me and my coaches because the training for each swim is just as different as the swims.
“But if there is a challenge for me I will dive in head first and prove that it can be done.”
Dungan said “very few people like distance swimming and that has always been my thing.”
However, when Sam Osborn graduated there was a spot on the team for a 50-yard freestyler. Dungan stepped up.
“I wanted to fill those shoes,” he said. “It is also a method to show to everyone that I can do more than just swim long distance.”
Dungan plans to attend Lindsey Wilson College after graduating WHS. There he will be a member of the swimming and cycling teams, two of the disciplines that make up triathlons, which Dungan is an accomplished participant in for his age level.
For now, though, this is it for Dungan in the orange and black cap of WHS.
“I can honestly say there has never been a dull moment when he is around,” Hopf said. “Ricky has grown into a tremendous leader and motivator. As he prepares to swim his last race wearing a WHS cap, he will be missed not only for his talents in the water but for his humor, commitment and drive for perfection.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports