Staying afloat: Talley goes from beginner to contender

By Richard Greene | Published Thursday, January 20, 2011
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After seeing David Talley splash into the pool at Fit-N-Wise for his first high-school practice, Decatur coach Doris Dennard didn’t expect him to be with the team long.

“He was in this near lane,” the coach recalls. “He was the only one that really couldn’t swim very good. He had a floppy body and was not breathing right.

“Every couple of practices, I’d ask him ‘are you OK?’ I was surprised he lasted through it.”

A year later in his second full season of swimming, the Decatur senior is threatening to qualify for regionals in four events – the 50-yard, 100-yard and two relays. Talley enters Saturday’s District 6-4A meet at the Denton Aquatics Center with the league’s second-best time in the 50 and fourth-best in the 100.

The top six finishers in each race qualify for regionals.

“[Making regionals] would mean a lot,” Talley said. “It’d show what a commitment to work hard will do.”

When he started swimming as a junior last year, Talley admittedly didn’t know what he was getting into.

“I had some friends on the team, and I always have to be doing something,” said the Eagle Scout. “It was tougher than I expected. I didn’t think that I’d still be doing it.”

In his first meet, Talley swam a 31.36 in the 50. He was disqualified in the 100. Through hard work all last winter, he melted seconds off his times. By December, he got his 50 time to a 27-flat. His 100 time went from 1:13.78 to 59.9.

He ended his first season at district with a 26.13 and 1:00.83 in the 100.

“He was like a lot of kids that had never swam competitively,” Dennard said. “He fell in love with it.”

Talley joined the Quest swimming team out of Fit-N-Wise to compete at USA Swimming meets.

“What really put me over the top was swimming with Quest over the summer,” Talley said. “I didn’t lose any time over the summer and was able to get faster.”

Over the summer, he held his own against a lot of veteran swimmers.

Talley, who is 10 pounds heavier and stronger since he started swimming, began his senior season with a 24.78 in the 50 – nearly two seconds better than his best time from the previous season. His 100 time was 58.68.

“He was my fastest swimmer coming back,” Dennard said. “He’s been a very pleasant surprise. He’s worked really hard and deserves everything he gets.”

He lowered his time in the 50 to a best of 24.26. His top 100 time is 56.33.

“He enjoys the little victories every time the times fall,” Dennard said. “Now, it’s down to the little things with him – dives and turns – and trying to perfect them.”

Of the four events he will compete in Saturday, the short sprint of the 50 freestyle is Talley’s favorite.

“It’s an all-out sprint, and the fastest swimmer wins. End of story,” Talley said. “In less than 30 seconds, it’s over, and you either did your job or you didn’t.”

As he prepares for what could be his final high school race, he is proud of how far he’s come, but he wished there was time for more.

“I wished I’d started before last year, and I’d still have another shot at district and regionals,” he said. “But now I’ve got to make the most of it.”

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