Prep Swimming: Dulin will help Barton get program started
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — Barton College’s new swimming program will include a representative from Rowan County — Carson graduate Gabe Dulin.
Barton, an NCAA Division II school in Wilson, is exactly what Dulin was looking for academically — a small college with a criminology and criminal justice program.
When Barton announced the decision that it was starting a swimming program last December, it made Dulin’s college choice easy. Now he can continue his swimming career while he earns a degree.
“Gabe actually got in contact with the Barton coaches on his own,” Carson coach Sallie Pittman said. “With his work ethic and his willingness to do whatever he’s asked to do, I think he will do great things next year.”
Dulin had to overcome a late start and some adversity during his senior year after an irregularity occurred during his routine physical.
“He wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to compete, but he still wanted to be part of the team and volunteered to be the manager,” Pittman said.
Eventually Dulin was cleared to swim, and he dove right in.
“I’ve always loved to swim from the first time I was in the water,” Dulin said. “I love the water and I loved competing for my school.”
In the Rowan County Championships held on Jan. 21 at the Hurley YMCA, Dulin was just getting warmed up. He was sixth in the 500 freestyle and 10th in the 100 breaststroke. He helped Carson placed fifth in the 200 medley relay and fourth in the 400 freestyle relay.
Carson finished fourth in the meet.
“It took Gabe a little bit of time to get his endurance back,” Pittman said. “But once he did, his times started dropping. He always wanted to know what he could do to improve and was always looking for extra workouts to do on his own. He’s one of the hardest-working kids you’ll ever find.”
Dulin, who won the Coaches Award or Carson swimming, said the breaststroke is his “specialty.” He also expects to compete in the backstroke and freestyle for Barton’s Bulldogs.
Barton is leaping into the deep end of the pool.
While the Bulldogs compete in Conference Carolinas in other sports, they’ll be part of the Bluegrass Mountain Conference in swimming. That’s a league that includes schools from six states. The BMC will be expanding to 15 teams with the addition of Barton and Salem International in the upcoming school year.
Catawba, Carson-Newman and Lenoir-Rhyne compete in the BMC. Wingate is very strong. The BMC’s powerhouse program is Queens, which has won two straight men’s and women’s national championships.
“I’m excited for Barton to be joining the Bluegrass Mountain Conference next year,” Barton coach Tyler Ziegler said. “I believe the high level of competition in the BMC will challenge our athletes to be the best they can be.”
Dulin is ready for the challenge.
“I appreciate that they wanted me on the team,” Dulin said. “It’s a great honor to help start the program.”