June 24, 2014

Bingham speeds to success with Dolphins

Reese Bingham’s name often appears at the top of the list of point-scorers for the Dalton Dolphins.

Success in the Chattanooga Area Swim League (CASL) could be just the start.

Bingham, 14, is one of the league’s fastest swimmers, and Dolphins coach Charles Todd believes she is quick enough to be a top swimmer on the state level, too.

Bingham helped the Dolphins improve to 5-0 in CASL competition with a 394-363 victory against Ooltewah (Tenn.) on Monday at the Dalton Park and Recreation Department’s John Davis Recreation Center. Bingham was one of four Dalton swimmers — along with Will Haley, Emilio Valdez and Ethan Young — who scored the meet maximum of 19 individual points.

Also scoring in double digits for the Dolphins were Alex Mashburn and Cole Withrow (17); Carlin Hudson, Raul Valdez and Roman Valdez (15); Shawn Bailey and Franco Valdez (14); Mary Pike and Payton Woodring (13); Waseem Albaba, Tanner Storey and Bruno Valdez (12); and Tyler Stephenson and Kaylin Woodring (11).

It was Bingham’s second time scoring the maximum amount of points and her fifth time in double digits this season.

“She may have been a top point-scorer last year in the CASL City Meet,” said Todd, who’s also the head coach for the USA Swimming-sanctioned Carpet Capital Aquatic Club (CCAC), a year-round program, as well as Dalton High School. “She’s one of the fastest in north Georgia and Chattanooga.”

Bingham, who will be a ninth-grader at Christian Heritage School this year, has been a competitive swimmer with the Dolphins and the CCAC for five years. She’s also a volleyball player, competing in that sport at Christian Heritage — but she prefers swimming.

“Volleyball and other sports are more of a team thing,” Bingham said. “This also is a team thing, but it’s more individual-based. You only need to focus on yourself.”

Todd classified Bingham as a “sprinter,” meaning she specializes in short-distance events. Todd said she’s a strong freestyle swimmer and regularly competes in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events.

“There are a lot of college swimmers who swim 25 (seconds) in the 50 free,” Todd said. “She’s about 25.2.”

Bingham said the difference between a short-distance swimmer and one specializing in longer distances is pace.

“With sprinting, there isn’t any holding back,” she said. “With longer events, you’re holding back until the end. In sprints, you set your tempo with your first stroke.”

Todd said the last “good nucleus” of strong female swimmers for the Dalton High School and CCAC programs was in 2010. Since then, Todd has coached multiple-time Georgia High School Association (GHSA) individual state champions in Taylor Dale, Taylor Mathis and Pierson Scarborough — who have all since graduated — and rising junior Ethan Young. Dalton High’s boys swimming and diving team won the GHSA Class A-5A state title in 2013.

Bingham could be the area’s next exceptional high school female swimmer, Todd said.

“She is a solid swimmer,” Todd said, “and I could see her going to the high school level and succeeding.”

That depends on her opportunity, though.

Christian Heritage doesn’t currently have a swimming and diving team, but Randy Russell, a Christian Heritage parent and supporter who was at Monday’s Dolphins meet, said there are discussions to begin a program at the school, even if it’s for just a handful of swimmers. While Dalton High School has had a team since 1974, the past few years have seen increased interest in high school swimming and diving in the area as Northwest Whitfield (2007), Coahulla Creek (2012) and Southeast Whitfield (2013) have all added teams.

The sport’s high school regular season focuses on packing the schedule with meets and invitationals, giving individuals more opportunities to qualify for the GHSA state meet. Even if a school doesn’t have enough to field a competitive team for meets, individuals still can win championships because qualifying for state is based on an individual meeting certain pre-set time standards.

If Christian Heritage starts a team, Bingham will be there.

“It wouldn’t be a complete team,” Bingham said, “but I can compete in meets. That’s the point of starting it.”

The Dolphins compete again next Monday, hosting top rival Signal Mountain (Tenn.) at 5:30 p.m.

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