Central boys swim coach Steve Spradlin wasn’t so certain Andrew Dowdle was cut out to be a sprinter. The junior’s favorite events are the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, but Spradlin wasn’t sure Dowdle’s technique was best suited there, especially in the 50 freestyle. Dowdle has a long, aesthetically-pleasing stroke, while most sprinters have more of a vigorous form for the short races.
Spradlin was considering keeping Dowdle in the 100 freestyle but replacing the 50 freestyle with the 200 freestyle, a move he discussed with Dowdle.
Dowdle told his coach he would make whatever move was necessary, but has proven his own value in his favorite events. He qualified for state in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. Preliminaries for the state meet are set to begin on Friday in Indianapolis.
“They’re a lot easier, and I’m better at them,” Dowdle said. “So it works.”
Spradlin said he’s seen Dowdle prove to him that he can stay with the sprinters, but not by changing his techniques. He describes Dowdle’s stroke as “long, smooth and pretty,” whereas the typical sprinter’s is fast, quick and ugly.
“He’s not gotten any uglier,” Spradlin said. “He’s just taken that smooth, pretty stroke and been able to speed it up and make it work in a sprint freestyle.”
Dowdle will face difficult competition in each of his events. He has a seed time of 22.19 seconds in the 50 freestyle, while 28 members of the 32-swimmer field have times better than 22 seconds. In the 100 freestyle, he has a seed time of 48.24 seconds and is seeded 28th. The top 16 finishers on Friday qualify for Saturday, when the top eight swim in the finals and finishers 9-16 swim in the consolation finals.
Dowdle is a repeat state qualifier who competed in the medley relay last season. This year, he will have a full competition load at state, competing in the medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay in addition to his individual events. He is one of four Central qualifiers, along with Jacob Carmichael, Cameron Ottinger and Cullen Tyler.
Tyler will compete in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. Ottinger qualified in the 100 breaststroke. Jay County’s James Keen qualified in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, and the Patriots also qualified in the 400 freestyle relay. New Castle’s Milan Kemplay qualified in the 100 breaststroke.
A former year-round swimmer, Dowdle now elects to diversify his athletic time. He plays soccer in the fall and competes in golf in the spring. While he’s confident he could have improved his times by swimming throughout the year, he said he has no regrets about getting outside and playing other sports.
“Swimming gets boring obviously, because it’s just down and back, down and back,” Dowdle said. “I like having the variety of golf and soccer because they’re all completely different sports.”