Every morning when Jack Dalmolin wakes up the first thing he sees is a goal sheet he filled out the first time he considered becoming a competitive swimmer. Initially, that goal sheet was practically everything. Now, it serves as a token—a reminder of how far he’s come.
Dalmolin, a junior at North Forsyth high school and a swimmer for the Chattahoochee Gold swim team, based out of the nearby Cumming Aquatic Center, took up year-round swimming when the center opened during his seventh grade year.
He tried out for the team “for fun,” he said. He left the first few practices in a different mood.
“I hated it at first,” Dalmolin said. “I really didn’t like it at all. For the first month or two I just wanted to quit, but my mom just kept telling me to wait until the first meet. At the first meet I had some alright swims I guess, for someone who had only been swimming a year-round schedule for a month. But it was brutal.”
After the meet, Dalmolin’s club coach at the time, Neil Savage, told him of his potential to be a great swimmer. Savage pulled up a database on his computer, outlining the practice attendance records of the best swimmers in the club—those at the top were attending at least 95 percent of their practices.
Dalmolin was attending roughly 60 percent of his, but that was about to change. He slowly took the sport more seriously, but it wasn’t until a second-place finish in the 100 breast in the eighth grade year-round state meet that he realized he was getting “better, faster, and stronger.”
From there, it was a full on commitment. As a freshman at North, he joined the Raiders swimming team and continued his schedule with Gold. His club practices were simply grueling.
“We have doubles, so twice a day, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we have singles. We have to wake up at 5 a.m., get practice in until 7 a.m., then go to school and prepare to practice again,” Dalmolin said.
At the beginning of each club year, Dalmolin sits down with current his coaches, Andy Eaton and Tyler Martin, and outlines his goals on a chart. Dalmolin, and many others, would tape the chart above their bed—a way to start each morning on the right foot. The chart about Dalmolin’s head kept him going, up until the point where the schedule became so routine he started not to notice.
“I was starting to mature a bit as a freshman, and it became easier. Especially so my sophomore and junior year,” Dalmolin said.
Dalmolin now sees himself as ultra-competitive, and hopes to use the rest of his high school career to lower his times enough to get serious Division I offers. Last year, at the GHSA state meet, he placed fifth in the 100-breast for the Raiders; at the Georgia Senior Short Course State Championship, held at Georgia Tech earlier this month, he won the 200-breast, while also placing third in the 200-free and second in the 200-IM.
He also hopes his steep incline can help the Raiders make a splash in the county meet.
“Last year we broke the 400-relay record,” Dalmolin said. “We have some new freshman coming in, a lot of speed, and we want to break that record again, and try to beat Lambert at the county meet. We all have individual records we want to set too.”
What are those for Dalmolin?
“I want to medal in both of my events at county,” Dalmolin said. “Top three would be awesome. The goal is to drop some more time this year and get better times posted for colleges.”
Swimming is Dalmolin’s new obsession, and he’s okay with paying the price.
“I think the hardest thing to overcome is just missing out on the social aspects of life sometimes,” Dalmolin said. “After school my friends will go grab food somewhere or play Frisbee, so it can be rough. But, as long as you have goals it’s not as bad.
“I’ve come to realize that if you’re not goal oriented, everything becomes harder. You are more likely to just breakdown, burn out and stop swimming. That happens all the time. You have to have something clear in mind and go get it. That’s what makes each practice rewarding.”