Daniel Carr Triumphantly Re-Swims, Lands Coach Dave Durden on Backside

daniel carr, dave durden, men's ncaa swimming
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2019 NCAA DI Championship coverage is sponsored by SwimOutlet.com. See full event coverage. SwimOutlet-Logo

The ordeal started with Dave Durden emphatically gesticulating behind the blocks and ended one hour later with Durden on the ground.

In between, one of his backstrokers took advantage of a controversial—but deserved—second chance that epitomized a week where just about everything has broken the Golden Bears’ way.

With Cal sophomore Daniel Carr swimming in heat six of prelims for the 100 back, Durden watched as normal for about the first 45 yards, with Carr swimming directly in front of the Cal swimmers and coaches in lane one. But when Carr reached the flags, Durden noticed that the backstroke wedge was still in the water. With Carr swimming at top speed into his second turn, he was about to smack his feet.

Indeed, Carr nicked the wedge, and it popped into the air. Carr’s reaction was the same as any normal swimmer: He was rattled.

“I tried to over-kick, trying to compensate for that mistake,” Carr said. “I was thinking, ‘What did I just hit? What happened?’ It kind of threw off the second 50 of my 100 back.”

Back on deck, Durden was furious. He began screaming at the official behind lane one, which he later admitted “I probably shouldn’t have done.” But in the moment, Durden only knew that thanks to circumstances that could be controlled, Carr had lost his opportunity to put forth his best performance.

“I let the emotion of that get the best of me because you know how hard athletes work to get to that point,” Durden said. “You want things to go right, and you talk about controlling the controllables. That’s very much a controllable. Ledge comes out, gets out of the way, and you allow that athlete to have a great performance.”

daniel-carr-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

At that point, the official froze, unsure of what to do next, as Durden yelled at him to take it out so that Carr could at least finish normally. Carr ended up coming into the wall at 45.45, but the damage was done. A few moments later, when the results summary scrolled on the scoreboard, Carr was listed as first alternate, missing the final.

The sophomore then handled the next few minutes perfectly: He got out, he put the swim behind him and focused on the 200 medley relay, coming up less than 30 minutes later. He led off in 20.92 and helped Cal secure the second seed for the finals. But unbeknownst to Carr, Durden was working on a fix.

He spoke with head official Jay Thomas and explained the situation, and Thomas offered a chance for Carr to re-swim the race.

“I was like, ‘Yeah. Of course,’” Durden said. “It got a little bit legalistic as to when he could do that. He was looking at a 100 back, a 50 back and a 100 back all in the span of an hour. It wasn’t ideal. We were trying to push that as far as we could, until after the first round of diving, just to give him a little more time. The way as the rule reads, for re-swim, it has to be 30 minutes after his last event.”

So when Carr got out of the relay, Durden delivered the news: He had to swim another 100 back in 35 minutes.

“I looked at him, like, ‘Whew. I’ve got 35 minutes. Okay,’” Carr said. “That’s how we trained all year, our preparation. We’ve had a lot of things come our way—earthquakes, lightning. It doesn’t matter what’s in our way. We’re going to get through it.”

===

Carr’s re-swim opportunity followed the rules of both the NCAA and simple fairness: He was denied the opportunity to compete at his best, and thus, he should be allowed a second chance. But consider the opposite perspective: He gets a chance to correct any mistakes from his first swim while none of his competition is afforded that luxury.

In his re-swim, Carr took full advantage. He again swam in lane one to replicate the conditions of his first race as close as possible—but with no other swimmers in the pool to create waves. He ended up blasting a 44.86, the fourth-best time of the morning and two tenths faster than his previous lifetime best.

But in the process of moving up from 17th to fourth and securing key A-final points for Cal, Carr displaced Alabama’s Zane Waddell from the championship final and Texas’ Austin Katz from the consolation heat.

Carr and Durden both understand how that situation could be perceived as a competitive advantage, but they saw no other way to ensure as fair racing conditions as possible.

“Trust me, I wish it didn’t happen. Like anything, you want to be able to control the controllables,” Durden said. “It wasn’t necessarily fair for Daniel to go a 100, a 50 and a 100 all in an hour to try to qualify for that final tonight. That was tough, and I think he earned that.

“If you had two options, you swim it in your normal race or you’re going to do your 100 as fast as you can go, you’re going to do a 50 as fast as you can go and then 30 minutes later, you’re going to do a 100. Which way do you want to do it? I’ve been around swimming long enough to know the first option is more of the likely one where you’re going to have your best performances.”

Durden compared Carr’s situation to a workout, with an all-out effort followed by recovery and then repeating twice. He jokingly shouted-out the Pac-12 championships for preparing Carr for that exertion by scheduling the 400 medley relay for 20 minutes after the 100 back final every year.

But it all worked out exactly in Cal’s favor. All of Carr’s teammates stuck around an extra 35 minutes for the re-swim, and so did the Bears’ fans watching from upstairs. The team on the deck furiously pumped their arms to urge Carr on as he swam directly underneath them in lane one.

dave-durden-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

And as he touched the wall, Durden threw his fists into the air in exuberance—only to slip and end up flat on the ground and continue celebrating as Cal senior Andrew Seliskar tried to hold him up.

“I’ve always wanted to be football coach on the sideline and hold back coaches. I needed a couple of those today. I needed those hold-back coaches to keep me from the sideline. They were there when I fell. They weren’t there to hold me back,” Durden said. “I was committed to that celebration, and I was going to be committed all the way down to the ground for it.”

And that is how Carr ended up a championship finalist in the 100 back, and he went on to finish seventh at night before again leading off Cal’s 200 medley relay on its way to a second-place finish.

Cal has thoroughly dominated the swimming events this week, and the Golden Bears head into the final day of the meet with a 43-point cushion in the team race. But for all the championships—so far, three individual wins plus one relay—and shining moments, the enduring image of the week may just be Durden on his backside, celebrating his sophomore backstroker’s triumph over circumstances.

6 comments

  1. avatar
    Taylor Covington

    Way to recover! We have all been there. Great story.

  2. Elaine Gerson

    Amy Armstrong Carr. Go Daniel!!!!

    • Emily Sue Boggs

      Elaine Gerson We watched his races this morning. Exciting!!!

  3. MK Mahoney

    Good for that young man bit bad for Zane and Bama