Parkersburg South’s Dominic Collins a fast learner

Swimming easily stands as one of the most technical sports in the wide world of athletics.

Those who wish to make waves are encouraged to start young with swimming lessons at their local YMCA or wherever else possible.

Obviously, good technique early is a necessity if someone endeavors to continue with the sport at the high school level and beyond.

Stamina and a competitive mindset are must-haves too. Swimming requires a strong body as every muscle must work together and in sync as an athlete propels through the water.

Parkersburg South senior swimmer Dominic Collins had no problem with the competitive fire when he took up the sport three years ago. The 6-foot-5 Patriot had played sports all his life. It started with soccer when he was little, but progressed to basketball mainly because of his height.

“I wasn’t much of a fan,” said Collins of the hardwood sport. “But people told me to stick with it and it will get better – It never got better.

“I played my freshmen year and hurt my ankle really bad so I quit that. I then met (swimmer) Kinzie Bailey on the cross country team and he suggested I come out for swimming next year and I did.”

He settled on track and swimming his sophomore year. He is an excellent high jumper, if you ever get the chance to see him, but back to the water.

Collins then came to the hard part of swimming. Learning the basic techniques, building stamina, and learning proper breathing. Something Parkersburg South head coach Steve Lutz remembered fondly.

“Dom learned from scratch,” said Lutz. “He went to the beginner lane and he worked over there swimming 1,000 yards a night. He learned how to do a flip turn. He had no idea how to do a flip turn his sophomore year and with tall guys it is sometimes tough to teach them at the wall. He was just determined. Anything he was going to do, he was going to learn to do it well.”

His hard work really surfaced by the time the 2016 state swim meet rolled in. Collins improved so much he was on a leg of the state champion 200 Yard Medley Relay, as well as on the runner-up 200 Yard Freestyle Relay. He finished 5th in the 100 Yard Freestyle, and 3rd in the 50 Free.

The Patriots went on to win the state championship by one point over George Washington, and South’s coaches were looking forward to seeing what Collins would do in Year 2.

“The 50 and 100 were what I was fastest at,” said Collins when talking about his individual events. “I couldn’t swim the 200, didn’t want to swim the 200. I couldn’t swim the breaststroke to save my life and hated getting water in my nose during the backstroke so I just said ‘Okay, I will go all out in the 50 and 100.”

Building on his sophomore campaign was an even stronger junior season. He once again played a major role at the state tournament, where the Patriots finished third.

He missed out by a finger nail (this is literal, I was in Morgantown watching one of the most anticipated races of the day as breathless as everyone else) for a top-of-the-podium finish in the 50 Free, when good friend and Parkersburg High swimmer Nathan Burd touched the wall .04 seconds before him. He placed third in the 100 Free, anchored the state champion 200 Free Relay and the third-place 400 Free Relay.

He is counting on making a splash during his last trip.

On Thursday, when he enters the WVU Natatorium Collins already owns the fastest time in the state this year in the 50 and the 100. He also anchors two of the fastest relay teams in the 200 Free and 400 Free.

School record-holders better keep a close eye on the record board up inside the Parkersburg Boys and Girls Club. Collins has plans to topple the 50 and 100 marks.

Not too shabby for someone who wasn’t sure how their journey in the pool would turn out three years ago.

“I always enjoyed swimming, but I didn’t think I would be terribly good at it,” said Collins. “It is a sport you need a lot of dedication and Garrett (Fink) and Kinzie (Bailey) had been swimming for eight or nine years and I knew it took a lot of time.

“I guess I got lucky.”

Luck and a little hard work help every time.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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