Unconventional Training Move Leads to Historic World Championships Performance for Dylan Carter 

Dylan Carter

Unconventional Training Move Leads to Historic World Championships Performance for Dylan Carter 

Sometimes, a change in training environment is all an athlete needs to get back on track. 

Two-time World Short Course Championships medalist Dylan Carter was one of the breakout performers in ISL Season Two. The Trinidad and Tobago native set numerous national records throughout the season and proved to be a valuable point scorer for the L.A. Current. 

Considering his massive drops in short course, most, including himself, thought he had a great chance of securing multiple second swims in Tokyo and possibly becoming the first Trinidadian since Olympic bronze medalist George Bovell to make an individual Olympic final. Ultimately, he did not have the performances he hoped for last summer. The Commonwealth Games silver medalist just missed out on an Olympic semifinal berth, with his highest finish coming in the 100 free, where he finished 22nd. 

After a relatively disappointing second Olympic Games, Carter went into ISL Season Three hoping to bounce back and rediscover his form from the 2020 bubble in Naples. With the L.A. Current deciding against retaining the Caribbean superstar, the Steven Tigg-led London Roar drafted him in the fifth round of the inaugural ISL Draft. Primarily used in the 50 fly for London in the regular season, Carter had three top-three finishes in the event, highlighted by a victory in Match 8. 

Having about seven weeks between the regular season and the playoffs, the former USC Trojan made an unconventional move in many ways and went back to his home country to train with local coach Dexter BrowneIt is almost unheard of to change training bases in the middle of a season. Also, it would baffle some people that an elite swimmer would trade a world-class training environment with top-level coaching and endless resources for a place that may not seem as adequately equipped for elite-level training and competing.

Though the decision initially surprised him a little, Browne, coach of a number of the Caribbean region’s top young swimmers, many who have gone on to compete at the NCAA level, did not think twice about agreeing to guide him. He long aspired to work with an athlete of Carter’s caliber. 

“Dylan’s dad reached out to me shortly after Dylan returned from the first round of the ISL and asked if I would be up to coaching Dylan for the World Short Course Championships,” Browne said. “I did not hesitate to say yes as I had long dreamed of having such an opportunity.”

With some collaboration with Carter’s childhood coach, Franz Huggins, who is now the Head Age Group Coach at Ransom Everglades Aquatic Club in Miami, Florida, Browne was able to develop a program with the aim of getting the 17-time All-American back to his 2020 best. 

The move immediately paid dividends. In Carter’s first ISL appearance since the coaching switch, he broke his own national record in the 50 fly, taking more than a tenth off the time he swam to win bronze at the World Short Course Championships in 2018. The four-time NCAA champion also took two tenths off his 50 free personal best, which was set during ISL Season Two. 

He continued his impressive performances throughout the postseason, lowering another national record in the 100 free and producing top-three swims in the 50 fly and 100 free to help London Roar finish third in the ISL final. His swims in Eindhoven were just the beginning of a productive and historic winter for the Trinidadian superstar.

With a few more weeks of fine-tuning under Browne, Carter produced a phenomenal showing at last month’s World Short Course Championships in Dubai.

Opening the meet with the 100 fly, Carter took almost half a second off his little over a year-old national record to rank eighth going into the semifinals. He took full advantage of the second swim and obliterated the mark he set just a few hours earlier to dip under 50 seconds for the first time in the semis. He finished ninth with a time of 49.87, less than a tenth away from becoming the first Trinidadian swimmer to make a global final in the event. 

After almost dropping a second in the 100, Carter was in a great position to repeat his podium finish in 2018 in the 50 fly, even in a loaded field that featured word-record holders Nicolas Santos and Szebasztian Szabo and 100 fly champ Matteo Rivolta. Carter put his name among the favorites from the get-go. The defending bronze medalist won his heat in 22.36 to lead the pack going into the semifinals. While he could not defend his top spot from the preliminaries, he produced his third national record of the championships to grab the third seed heading into finals with a 22.18. 

Capping off a phenomenal championships, Carter produced another electrifying performance in the final. The “Soca Sprinter,” a nickname given to him by Browne, referencing the popular Caribbean musical genre developed in his home country, dipped under 22 seconds for the first time to grab silver, finishing just .05 behind Santos. His 21.98 took two-tenths off the national standard he set the previous day and ranks him sixth all-time in the event. Carter’s silver medal additionally makes him the highest ever Trinidadian finisher at a senior World Championships.

The two-time Olympian’s swims at the back end of last year are significant in multiple ways. First and foremost, it cements Carter among the world’s best in the sprint butterfly event. Looking ahead to the World Championships in May, although it is long course, the former World Junior silver medalist should be in the conversation when discussing potential podium finishers in Fukuoka, Japan. 

As for the bigger picture, it also shows one does not need world-class facilities and a big-name coaching staff behind them to achieve success on the international stage. Yes, having those things help, but once an athlete has the right mindset and a humble, dedicated, and committed coach supporting them, they can succeed in any environment.

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2 years ago

I wish the article detailed what training Dylan actually did and how it differed from previous regimes. What did he think made the difference?

2 years ago

I agree that it would be nice to offer more details. Did he swim different workout sets? Was it just nicer to be home?

It would help to put aside baseless allegations that some countries don’t obide by WADA standards.

2 years ago

Let’s go TTO!!!! Very excited for these Coaches for these results. I hope it continues to go well for them.

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