SPORTS HEADLINES

Going the distance: Decatur freshman swimmer finds home in 500

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Besides enjoying the challenge of testing her endurance limits and swimming the length of five football fields, Allie Blevins claims she picked the event out of necessity.

“Honestly, I just can’t do short distances,” she admits with a smile.

Built for Distance

BUILT FOR DISTANCE – Decatur freshman Allie Blevins will try to earn a regional bid Saturday in the 500 at the District 6-4A meet. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Decatur freshman has shown the unique ability to power through the laborious, distance event. She enters Saturday’s District 6-4A meet at the Denton Natatorium with hopes of earning a trip to regionals.

Blevins, who has been swimming competitively for four years, began her first high-school season swimming shorter distances. It was not until the team’s November meet in Wichita Falls where she found a home in the 500.

“At the beginning of the year, she didn’t do the 500,” said Decatur coach Brooklyn Huffman. “I made them choose an event that they wouldn’t swim. I put her in the 500, and she found her event.”

Blevins turned in her best time at Wichita Falls and qualified for the North Texas 4A Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Invite, where she swam a 5:57.28.

Huffman said it takes a special swimmer to compete in the endurance-taxing 500.

“It’s one of the most mentally tough events,” she explained. “The entire time you have to stay strong and focused.”

Blevins said it is a challenge to stay focused through the entire event.

“You are constantly thinking about your position in the water and trying to go fast,” she said. “I try not to think about it.”

Since starting to swim the event full time, Blevins said she’s really working on her breathing.

“It’s all in the breathing. The shorter breaths I take, the more tired I’m going to be,” she said.

After the first 250 yards, Blevins said the fatigue starts to settle in, and it becomes mind over matter.

“The hard part is in the middle when you start to ache. You start to speed up then,” she said.

Her knack for swimming long distances helps her in workouts. She’s ready for more when her teammates begin to complain.

But at meets, Blevins faces a tough turnaround, swimming on the 200 relay shortly after her 500.

“The 200 relay is right after,” she said. “It’s tough to sprint 50 after swimming 500.”

Huffman expects Blevins to make a strong showing Saturday and make a run at a regionals spot.

“She’s improved a ton with her conditioning,” Huffman said. “Hopefully, she’s peaking here at district and regionals.”

If the 500 wasn’t enough, Blevins plans to push her endurance even more as she swims the 1,000 for her club. To her, the longer the race, the better.

Flocking Together

FLOCKING TOGETHER – Decatur swimmers cheer together at practice Monday. The team will compete at the District 6-4A meet Saturday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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