Stephenville’s Dillon Barber always enjoys swimming, but this summer his fun turned to joy when he earned a couple of medals in a national meet.
Barber competed Aug. 5-6 in the State Games of America in Grand Rapids, Michigan and won a silver medal and a bronze medal as part of a relay team. He also placed fourth in two individual events and was fifth in another.
Barber is a member of the Stephenville Stingrays, who compete in Region 4 of the Texas Amateur Athletic Association. He was entered in the boys 15 and over division after qualifying for the national meet by finishing among the top three in the TAAF state meet. His relay team was put together with two other Texas swimmers and one from Missouri who had also qualified at the state level in other events.
He and his family moved to Stephenville from Odessa three years ago. He had joined a competitive swim team there when he was only 11 years old, after his mother noticed that he seemed to be a natural.
“I love swimming. It’s my favorite sport ever,” said Barber, who has been home-schooled since kindergarten. “It’s just pure competition. I just love a good race. It’s the adrenaline, really.”
This marked Barber’s first time to qualify for the national amateur meet, which is held every two years. Barber said he set personal records in each event, and the 100-meter freestyle had a tight finish and may have been the toughest.
“When I swam that race, it used all my energy,” said Barber, whose parents are Tom and Robbie Barber. “It was a pretty slim race.”
In the Aug. 5 Open competition held at a high school in Grand Rapids, Barber grabbed the bronze medal for third place in the 200-meter open relay, as well as fourth place in the 100-meter freestyle and 50-meter freestyle, his dad said. That was in the boys 15-17 age group.
The next day, in the boys 15-18 division of a separate meet held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Barber captured the silver medal in the 200-yard relay, placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle, and was fifth in the 100-yard breastroke. He posted personal-best times in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.61 seconds, and in the 50-yard freestyle, with 23.30.
“I was pretty nervous going up there because there were lots of swimmers that were pretty fast and competitive,” said Barber, who now plans to join the Fort Worth Area Swim Team (FAST). “It was great competition, and I had a great time. I felt a lot better after my first race.”
Barber said his goal is to qualify to compete in the Junior Olympics, and hopefully make it all the way to the Summer Olympic Games.
“I’m very focused on that. Going to the Olympics is my dream,” he said.
Dillon’s mother, Robbie Barber, said that during the Sunday competition there were approximately 850 kids competing, including about 400 from Texas.