By Dave Denniston
CARLSBAD, California. January 23. MOST people don’t know who Carter Hull is. After all, he wasn’t as fast as Ian Crocker or Michael Phelps. He never stood out on any relays as the hammer leg. But he is one of the few swimmers in the history of our sport who absolutely embody persistence.
In 1999, before Auburn was “unbeatable” they were trying to form only their second championship team. Carter was a junior who had just transferred to Auburn in the hope of becoming a member of a National Championship team. In order to do that, he would have to qualify for the NCAA’s.
Carter’s best shot was in the 100 butterfly. Before he transferred, his best time was 48.8. Everyone at Auburn knew he would have to be well under that to make the team in 1999. At the SEC Championships Carter had a great meet posting solid 48 low performances. Not feeling like that would make it into the meet, Coach Marsh had Carter time-trial the 100 fly to try and get under that 48 barrier. He went 48.0.
Carter held onto his taper for another week while he tried again to get under that 48.0 barrier at the last chance meet in Auburn. Three swims later, and Carter posted a quick 47.9. With the NCAA Championship qualifications based on the number of people allowed into the meet, it was fairly clear by all calculations that the 47.9 wouldn’t get into the meet either.
In a last ditch effort, Carter drove 8 hours away to Georgia to compete in the age-group sectional meet. He must have felt silly, competing against a bunch of 15-16 year-olds. But he didn’t. He was focused on one thing: beating the clock. In the final heat of that year’s Sectionals, with no teammates around, no friends, no family and a Graduate Assistant as a coach, Carter Hull went 47.8 and squeaked into the NCAA meet.
Auburn won their second championship that year, and Carter was part of the team. He contributed to the point tally, posting a 47.64 in the consolation finals of the 100 fly. He never gave up. He never quit. He wanted to be part of a team that could win, and he didn’t stop until that dream was a reality. Between the SEC Championships and qualifying for NCAA’s, Carter raced over ten times in two weeks. That’s persistence.
Dave’s Note: If the Denver Broncos could have seen Carter in 1999 they might not have folded in the middle of the second quarter. Come on! How many times did Jake Plummer NOT get touched, Offensive Line? Where was the passion? Where was the pride? Why did you give up so easily?