A lot of people do not know what it takes to become an Oklahoma All-State swimmer, especially when you are swimming for 2016 Oklahoma Swim Coach of the Year Linda Wiginton.
There is a certain level of pressure that most in the sport do not have to contend with and get by doing only what is necessary to make it to the next level, but they never quite seem to take that extra step.
Luckily, Altus had someone who would take that extra step, swim that extra lap, and do everything in his power to be the absolute best he could be once it came time to get in the pool and compete for his team.
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years and Daniel is one of the most dedicated kids that I have ever had,” Wiginton said. “He is super disciplined and does a lot of stuff outside of the pool to make him a better swimmer and he is just so very disciplined all the way around as far as staying on task and not getting distracted. It has been a tremendous amount of fun to watch my kids grow up and mature and move on to the next level in their swimming careers. We’ve had a really good four years and I am super excited to see how well he does in college.”
When a swimmer receivers praise of that kind from Wiginton, there seems to be very little left for one to achieve.
Wiginton is one of the best swimming coaches in the nation and the only thing that would be more satisfying than her praise is winning an Olympic gold medal.
Her dedication to her swimmers is one of the key reasons Altus High School has been blessed with back-to-back state championships in swimming and it is also one of the key reasons why the swimming program is consistently developing swimmers like Daniel Brown, Walker Sacco, and Konner Croft, each an of whom were All-State swimmers.
Brown’s freshman year, he won two silver medals, and secured a third-, fourth-, and eighth-place finish for the Bulldogs boys at the state championship meet.
His sophomore year, he added to that by winning two silvers and two golds as the Bulldogs swam their way to become Class 5A State runners-up.
By the time he was a junior, Brown was locked in. At state he won four gold medals and a Class 5A state championship.
His senior year ended with four more gold medals and a second consecutive Class 5A state championship.
Brown had a phenomenal high school career with each new year being better than his last. The amount of dedication one must have to compete at that level, Brown had it.
“One of the most exciting races was the two hundred medley relay at the state finals this past February,” Brown’s father Jim Brown said. “The Bulldogs were expected to cruise to a win, but after the first three legs, they found themselves over a body length behind, which is a lot when there is only 50 yards left to swim.”
“Daniel was swimming the anchor 50 free and one of the newer swim moms was sitting in front of me. I leaned forward and said to her, watch this. Daniel hit the water and caught the leader at the 25 turn and won by the same distance he was trailing as he hit the finish wall. Ask any spectator of these big meets and you will hear the excitement of what they witnessed.”
But that is just who he is, ultra-competitive and insanely talented and now he will take that talent and competitive drive to the four-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics — or NAIA — national championship swim team of the Oklahoma Baptist University — or OBU — Bisons.
The Bisons moved from the NAIA to division two of the National Collegiate Athletic Association — or NCAA II — which means tougher competition, but far more glory.
The Bisons are coached by Dr. Sam Freas, who was selected as the 2015 NAIA Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year, was the head swim coach of the World University Games, a world coach at the Goodwill Games and was on the coaching staff of the South African Olympic team.
In essence, he is going from being coached by one of the best high school swim coaches in the nation to being coached by one of the best college swim coaches in the nation.
More importantly, Brown did not have to leave Oklahoma to find his ideal collegiate swimming program.
For Oklahomans, that means they can look forward to hopefully what amounts to many more years of championships for the state in college athletics and be proud that one of their own was able to help make that happen.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.