|By Sarah Eckersley
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 4. TODAY, Eddis Singleton (SwimMac-NC), 26, will attempt to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. At the Charlotte UltraSwim, Singleton qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50 free (23.16).
Singleton was born and raised in East Cleveland, Ohio. "What do you think when you hear of East Cleveland?" asked Singleton's former coach and close friend, Jason Hill. "You think of football or basketball – not swimming," he answered rhetorically. That is if you do not count Singleton, who has come a long way from his hometown to Omaha, Nebraska for the Olympic Trials.
Singleton learned how to swim at the only pool in the city (which is now closed), besides the YMCA, during the summer months of his childhood. "The entry fee was one dollar," said Singleton. The entry fee would allow him to swim for three hours. His grandmother would more than often foot the bill. This is where and when he met Hill, a lifeguard at the pool. Since he did not have any formal training, Hill became his coach.
Years later, Singleton attended the Shaw High School swim team tryouts. He became Shaw High's first district champion and state high school qualifier in over 30 years. Following graduation, in 2000, Singleton went to Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. At Mount Union, he became a NCAA Division III All-American and National Champion in the 50 free. "Singleton is very humble," expressed his former college coach, Kathy Lavery, who still speaks to him on an every other day basis. "He is more of a role model in the water. His technique speaks volume," she explained. Although he was a National Champion in the 50 free, she has never seen him wear his ring to this day. "That is not Eddis Singleton," she stated.
After college, Singleton took a break from swimming. "During this time, I became a substitute teacher and swim coach [at Beachwood High School]," said Singleton. It was on a whim, three years later, that he decided to swim at the Parkview Pool 8th Annual Summer Sizzler in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. On July 29, 2007, he won the 50 free with a short course meter time of 22.36. After he converted his time to yards, he realized that he had not swum that fast – ever.
Naturally, Singleton called Lavery. Even though nothing would surprise her about him, she did not guess that his time would be so fast – considering the fact that he had not been training. "Why are you not training for the Olympics?" Lavery asked him after she heard the time.
In January, Singleton was given the opportunity to train with David Marsh, CEO/Head Elite Coach at the Center of Excellence (COE) at Mecklenburg Aquatic Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. Previously, Marsh was the Head Coach of Auburn University for 16 victorious years. The COE Elite Team consists of 15 to 20 swimmers including, Olympic gold medalist, Mark Gangloff.
Singleton, who is seeded 44th within the pool of 117, was the final swimmer of the COE to qualify for the Trials. "Eddis had a lot of disadvantages, but people believed in him," said Lavery. They still do. Singleton is proud to have made it to the Trials – but you would never be able to tell.
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