It’s a little before 7 a.m., and Daniel Smyers is already wrapping up his swim practice.
Early morning workouts are something the senior is used to. He’s been doing it his whole high school career with cross-country, swimming and track.
Those workouts turned into a cross country state championship for the Decatur Eagles two months ago. Now Smyers is hoping to advance to the regional swim meet.
Smyers, along with fellow Eagles and Lady Eagles will be competing at the District Swim Meet Saturday in Denton.
The event begins 10 a.m. at the Denton ISD Natatorium.
“After cross country then it’s the same thing again,” Smyers said about the hours of work. “Then after swimming is over it’s on to track.”
With a long cross country season, Smyers gets a late start on the swim season. Although the hours are the same, the workout regiment is totally different.
Many runners have a difficult time making the transition, but Smyers has been swimming since eighth grade, and he is one of the few that has stuck with it.
“In eighth grade I wasn’t devoted to any sport, and my parents mentioned swimming,” Smyers said. “I started swimming, and one of the after-school programs saw me and asked me to join. Then when I started high school I went on to the high school team.”
A runner usually needs two months to get into swimming shape. Once the adjustment is made the times should start dropping.
“It’s a different animal,” Decatur coach Doris Dennard said about the two sports. “Cross-country kids think they are in shape, and they come in here and can’t cut it. It’s like telling a swimmer to go run; the crossover is hard.”
After he returned from the Christmas break, Smyers started to shave seconds off his times.
“When he gets here he works hard, sets a good example and really works to get his times down,” Dennard explained. “He blends in with the team, helps them have a good time and is always good for a laugh sometimes.”
If his times continue to drop, then Smyers might be in line for his first trip to regionals in an individual event.
Although it’s his least favorite race, the 100-freestyle appears to be Smyers’ best opportunity to advance. He’s been doing it the longest and swam his fastest 100 at the district meet last year.
The top six finishers will advance to the regional meet in Mansfield Feb. 8. With his times dropping the way they are, Dennard likes his chances for Saturday.
“He’s sitting where he should get to regionals in three events,” Dennard said. “His two relays, and in the 100 he’s in position if he maintains his best time of the year. He still needs to drop about a second in the 50.”
If Smyers can pull that off, if Robert Davilla makes his time in the 200 freestyle and if the relays do their job it could be a big day for the Eagles. The Lady Eagles are also in good position. Their relays are projected to advance along with Katy Rowden in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
Haley Dennard’s times are looking good in the same two events, and Baley Phariss has a good shot in the 100 breaststroke.
According to Dennard, Smyers’ senior leadership could be a big lift for both teams Saturday.
“His leadership has shown more this year than it has in the past,” Dennard said. “He’s stepping up his game in practice, listening and helping out other people when they need it.”