Dalton High School Catamounts

January 20, 2014

Former Catamount Taylor Dale shining at Georgia as SEC swim meet approaches

As a Dalton High School swimmer, Taylor Dale swam fast. And his popularity throughout the national swimming scene grew just as fast.

Now a Georgia Bulldog, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down — and has given his former teammates an familiar example of success.

Dale earned Southeastern Conference freshman of the week honors for his performance last week against Texas and Texas A&M. Even before this recognition, the former Catamount was building a reputation as one of the most promising freshmen on the 26-swimmer roster.

“I knew I could help out but didn’t understand fully until I got here,” Dale told The Daily Citizen in a phone interview. “ … I’ve definitely improved a lot. Looking back, with my expectations coming in, I didn’t think I’d improve this fast and to this point compared to where I was coming out of high school.”

Dale, who swims in multiple events for the Bulldogs, won both 100-yard backstroke races and two 200-yard medley relays, which includes four 50-yard legs of backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle. Against Texas A&M on Jan. 10, Dale finished the 100 backstroke in 48.92 seconds, a bit slower than his winning 48.34 a day later against Texas. He led off both 200 medley relays — which finshed in 1:29.32 versus Texas A&M and 1:28.79 against Texas. He also swims in the 400 freestyle B-relay, 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly.

“It was very intimidating coming around for the first dual met and our invitational,” Dale said. “I didn’t know what to expect or how well I’d do. I didn’t have any expectations. I just wanted to do my best. The team atmosphere helped a lot because it was a laughing, joking mood where it took your mind off swimming and you were just having fun.”

The Bulldogs finished third in last year’s SEC championship meet. They finished the same in the 2012 and 2010 meets. The Lady Bulldogs have won four straight SEC titles and finished second in the nation in 2011 and 2012. The Georgia men finished 11th at the 2012 national meet and 10th in 2011.

Georgia’s coach, Jack Bauerle, was the coach of the U.S. women’s swim team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In his 34th year leading the Lady Bulldogs, he has four national championships and eight SEC titles. He’s been the Georgia men’s coach for 30 seasons and has coached 56 individual SEC champions and 15 individual NCAA champions.

“Taylor is a great kid,” Bauerle said. “He came in and took the bull by the horns.”

That was Dale’s intention. Knowing he was leaving as the fastest fish in the northwest Georgia area — he won seven individual state titles, along with last year’s Georgia High School Association team championship — and entering not a bigger pond, but a full-sized lake with the Bulldogs and the rest of the SEC.

“I have eight other people working their butt off in practice and trying to meet their goals and expectations,” Dale said. “When they try and get better it helps others get better because you’re trying to compete against them and also stay positive for the team.

“I’m not the fastest guy on Georgia’s team. Having people on my team who train hard keeps me motivated to train hard and help the team out with whatever I can do.”

At last February’s GHSA Class A-5A state meet, Dale joined Ethan Young, Pierson Scarborough and Taylor Mathis as Dalton’s state meet record-setting 200-yard medley relay, which finished in 1:32.93 to edge the state mark the group set in Friday’s preliminaries. The same group won the 400 freestyle relay (3:10.83) to clinch the program’s title.

Individually, Dale won the 100 butterfly (49.86 seconds) and 100 backstroke (49.11). He won both events in 2012 and was part of a state-title winning 200 medley relay. Additionally, Dale has stayed in contact both with Dalton coach Charles Todd and members of the Catamounts swimming and diving team.

“It’s big for our kids,” Todd said, “because they get to train with a college athlete when he comes home for the holidays. ... You know, Taylor just does a lot of the right things. I expect him to go as far as he wants to go.”

Young, a sophomore swimmer at Dalton, visited Dale at Georgia and finished second to him in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke events last year at state. He also was on both state title-winning relay teams. Like Dale, Young has qualified for the Olympic Trials and could make the USA National Team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“This is really the first time we could compare our success and what we’re doing to someone at the NCAA level,” Young said. “I’ll text him sometimes and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing. What are you doing?’ It makes us better as a team and it’s really motivating us.”

Dale admitted there is a stark contrast between high school and college competition — along with the academic lifestyles. He plans to major in exercise science and eventually study physical therapy.

“In high school, I had a set schedule,” Dale recalled. “Swim, school, swim and homework. Here, I struggle sometimes getting up on Sundays for church. I may study but not the correct way.”

During the summer of 2012, Dale competed in the USA Swimming Speedo Junior National Championships in Indianapolis and won the 100 backstroke in 55.98 seconds.

If people hadn’t noticed his talent before, that was the moment everyone realized how good a swimmer Dale was — and how good he could be. Dale signed with Georgia just a few months later, in November.

“He’s a difference maker,” Bauerle said. “He’s one of the reasons we are a better team than we were a year ago. He’s a consistent worker and he’s a delight to have on the team.

“He’s a tough kid — and tough kids make good swimmers. He’s going to be real successful in whatever he does. We knew he was good, but the surprise is how fast he has matured into a very good college swimmer.”

With the SEC Championships approaching — the five-day event begins Feb. 18 at Georgia’s home pool in Athens — Dale wants to help Georgia win the meet and also wants to individually qualify and place at the upcoming NCAA national meet.

“In the long run,” Dale said, “I just want to keep improving times and in 2016 I want to be a contestant to make the Olympic Team for Rio.”

1
Text Only
Dalton High School Catamounts
  • NW_DHS Swimming 6 mlh.jpg Todd leaving DHS swim after 16 years

    Throughout his 17 years with the Carpet Capital Aquatic Club and his 16 years with the Dalton High and Dalton Middle School swim programs, Charles Todd has received looks and offers from other areas.
    But with his youngest child Chase still in school and his wife playing a major role in the Whitfield County Division of Family and Children Services, Todd wasn’t looking to make a move.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7on7 championship game6.jpg Bringing in the best

    When high school football coaches look for events to take their teams to during the summer, they are looking for three things — top competition, organization and hospitality.
    For The Daily Citizen’s Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship, the Dalton community and local business leaders take care of the latter. The tournament officials work tirelessly to provide the organization. And the two combined assure the top competition will show up.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wil Cushman 3 mlh.jpg Cushman’s gamble is paying off

    Wil Cushman never had to worry about establishing his high school’s swimming and diving program. Dalton already had a full roster and championship history.
    His first two years at Birmingham Southern University, though, have been all about making sure the beginning wasn’t the end.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NW softball state championship file 1 mlh.jpg In the lineup again

    When Northwest Whitfield repeated as the Georgia High School Association Class 4A softball state champion last fall, that appeared to be the last time the majority of the Lady Bruins’ senior class would be teammates on the diamond.
    Now, thanks to the Stump on Sports All-Star Softball Classic, five of those six seniors will reunite to play together one more time.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Junior golf: Hicks able to hang for final round

    Despite giving up a few strokes from Monday’s opening round of 4-over-par 76, Dalton’s Landon Hicks was the only local competitor to advance to the third round of the Georgia Junior Championships.

    June 18, 2014

  • Isabel Salinas 5 mlh.jpg All-Area Spring Female Team: Salinas hoping things keep getting better and better with age

    Isabel Salinas’ freshman season for Southeast Whitfield High School’s track and field team wasn’t up to her standards, and she really isn’t sure why it ended up that way in 2013. It could have been her injuries. It could have been not being in proper shape.
    One thing Salinas, nicknamed “Izzy” by friends and coaches, does know is that her sophomore year went a lot better.

    June 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • poty seth.jpg All-Area Baseball Team and Player of the Year

    As a freshman at Northwest Whitfield High School, Seth Pierce came out of nowhere and was as dominant a pitcher as the area had. Finishing his “rookie” season with the Bruins, the left-handed Pierce led the area with nine victories — he also had one save — and showed overpowering dominance with a 9-3 record and 89 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He finished his first season on the hill in Tunnel Hill with a 1.71 ERA while allowing 61 hits and 23 walks. Those numbers were also recorded against competition in a higher classification as the Bruins were playing Class 4A ball when the state had just five classifications. His performance earned him honors as 2012 The Daily Citizen All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carlile signing 3 mlh.jpg Carlile gets a chance to grind

    As Dylan Carlile saw more and more of his peers receiving offers from college wrestling programs, he became nervous.
    The Dalton High School grappler had nothing to worry about, because when the time came, he had his choice.

    May 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • daltongirls.JPG Dalton girls finish second in Class 4A

    In the Class 4A girls state golf tournament last year, the Dalton High School team finished third at Nob North Golf Course. Monday, playing in the state championship at Waynesboro Country Club, the Lady Catamounts finished second by just two strokes.
    “There is just one more place left to win,” Dalton coach Nancy Hallsworth said. “They have the time ahead of them to do it.”

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • dhs bass signing1.jpg Nelson keeps a tight line

    Multiple high school athletes from the area sign scholarships each year for baseball, basketball, football, softball, volleyball and many other sports.
    Bass fishing scholarships? There aren’t many of those.

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo