ATLANTA — Friday night, Taylor Dale was in the hospital.
On Saturday, he was in the pool, and no one was better.
Despite battling “mono” all week leading up to Saturday’s finals in the Georgia High School Association’s Class A-5A State Swimming and Diving Championships at Georgia Tech, the Dalton High School senior won all four of his events and played arguably the biggest role in the Catamounts’ first team state title in the sport since 1993.
But Friday, Dale wasn’t feeling so great. After the preliminary swims, he made sure continuing still was even possible.
“I was in the hospital (Friday night) and got tested to see if anything else was wrong with me,” Dale said.
According to the online medical database WebMD, mononucleosis is a virus that causes fever, sore throat, headaches and fatigue. The best medication is rest.
“(The doctors) took my bloodwork and said it was all right (to compete),” Dale said. “They said if it’s not serious, then go for it. They said to keep eating, drinking and staying hydrated.
“I’ve just been so drained of energy.”
He had enough energy on Saturday, even though after the final relay he admitted he was “pretty sick.”
Dale, Ethan Young, Pierson Scarborough and Taylor Mathis made up the state meet record-setting 200-yard medley relay, which finished in 1 minute, 32.93 seconds 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 last year and was part of a state-title winning 200 medley relay, giving Dale — who has committed to the University of Georgia — seven individual and relay state championships in his career.
“You can’t say enough about Taylor Dale coming off mono,” Dalton coach Charles Todd said.
In the final relay, Dale was the final leg. He started with the lead, swam his 100 yards in 46.12 seconds (the third-fastest time for the leg) and finished the victory against Westminster, which was two seconds behind.
It capped off a memorable performance for him, Young, Scarborough and Mathis. The four accounted for all 192 of the Cats’ team points. Westminster finished second with 173.
“(Friday) I though I wasn’t doing too well. I kept pushing and pushing,” said Dale, who was seeded second in the 100 backstroke and third in the 100 butterfly after preliminaries. “Once we got the lead (in the 400 freestyle relay on Saturday) and I was in the water, I slowed down a little bit and just held on so I didn’t hurt myself and end up going to the hospital again.”
Dale didn’t want to take credit for all of the heroics. He pointed out that Scarborough had pain in his leg for the final relay due to swimming the 100 breaststroke — he was sixth in 59.49 — just before.
“He’s in pain right now,” Dale said of his fellow senior. “He put everything he had into it. We’re here for each other.”
Scarborough swam the third leg in 49.59, the fourth-fastest time for the team, and he also finished eighth in the 50 freestyle (22.04).
“To be honest with you, what was going through my mind was I was angry because I didn’t swim well earlier,” Scarborough said. “I knew I had to suck it up because of the big picture for these guys — and because of my senior aspirations — so I tried as hard as I could.”
ATLANTA — Friday night, Taylor Dale was in the hospital.
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