Making waves as a freshman: Daniel Gudgin battles broken arm to finish first at last swimming meet

Published 6:08 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

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Only a freshman, but making waves. Callaway swimmer Daniel Gudgin has got off to a blazing start with the Cavalier swim team.

His hot start to the season is quite a shocking development. Gudgin broke his arm a couple of months ago and got out of his hard cast three weeks before his competition on Tuesday.

It was just the second competition he was able to take part in this year, and it was a memorable one for Gudgin as he took home first place in the 500m freestyle.

“It was definitely exciting after a long time, three months, without any type of thing since I broke my arm, so it was exciting to get back,” Gudgin said. “It was definitely great. And definitely a shock.”

His first meet at the high school level was on Dec. 8 at Harris County. These two meets have been a rewarding experience for the freshman as he learns to navigate the uncharted waters of competing against swimmers who are already committed to swimming at the collegiate level.

“There’s a little bit of nervousness, just wanting to do well when I first get there, but I once you get into your groove, it’s exciting just to compete in the races.”

Gudgin still has a soft cast on his right arm. This freshman season seemed like it might be a wash when he first broke his arm.

Now, Gudgin has refocused on his goals for the season.

“My goal was to make it the state cut, but with a broken arm it wasn’t something I was expecting,” Gudgin said. “There were definitely low expectations after I broke it. I just wanted to get back out and swim.

“I lost a lot of my wrist mobility, so there was a lot of relearning, but now my goal is to make the state cut. again.”

Gudgin is a swimmer through and through. Once scared of getting in the water, Gudgin overcame his fear and eventually found a love for swimming.

“Before I learned how to swim, I was scared of the water but as soon as I went to do it I just enjoyed it, and I’ve stuck with it ever since,” Gudgin said. 

Like many local youth swimmers, Gudgin started with the Troup County Sharks. He always had eyes on swimming at the high school level for Callaway.

“He bleeds red and black,” said Lee Gudgin, Daniel’s father. “He really loves that school.”

Representing Callaway means everything to the young Cavalier and he is just getting started, a scary proposition for others competing in the A-AAA division. 

“I want to be the first one to win state at Callaway,” Gudgin said. “I know it is going to take a lot of hard work, but that is my ultimate goal.”

Swimming is not just a seasonal activity for Gudgin, who competes with a competitive team called the Sea Wolves when not with the Cavaliers. He goes to at least a tournament a month, where hundreds if not thousands of other swimmers compete. It is a feeling he is used to by now as he looks forward to steep competition.

Gudgin will get a short Christmas break before returning to competitions in early January with the Cavaliers. The hope is to be 100% recovered from his broken arm by the time the state meet comes around in February.