By David Fong
TROY — Not that Joe Dutton needed any further reassurance that he was making the right college choice, but if he did, this winter happened.
With all the snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures — some of which stretched into mid-April — in Ohio the past five months, Dutton’s decision to attend school and swim competitively at Rollins College is looking better by the minute. Dutton signed his national letter of intent Friday.
“This winter helped my decision so much,” Dutton said. “We had a substitute teacher, Mr. Kelly, who said he had just spent the last three weeks in Florida and it was 80 degrees every day. I need that so bad right now. All of their practices are outside (at Rollins). I’ll be able to practice outside every day.”
That certainly will be a far from Dutton’s current practice schedule, which — during the winter months — involves him waking up at 3:30 a.m. every day and driving to Beavercreek to swim indoors before school starts.
“It’s definitely been rough,” Dutton said of his current practice schedule. “I love it, obviously, but it has been tough when I’ve had to miss out on some things and not be able to hang out with my friends because I’ve had to get up so early every morning for training.”
That training paid off for Dutton, who was an All-Greater Western Ohio Conference American League selection all four years of high school. This winter, he was first-team All-GWOC American League as a member of the 200 medley relay team and was second-team in the 100 backstroke, 500 freestyle and as a member of the 400 freestyle relay.
As a junior, he was first team in the 200 medley relay and 200 individual medley and second team in the 400 freestyle relay. As a sophomore, he was first team in the 500 freestyle and 200 freestyle and second team in the 200 medley relay. As a freshman, he was first team in the 500 freestyle and second team in the 200 medley relay.
All of which was impressive enough for Rollins College to actively pursue Dutton.
“They just emailed me and said they wanted to get to know me,” Dutton said. “They must have found my times online and then they just kept in contact with me. I went down for a visit and from there, everything just kind of fell into place.”
The idea of going to school far from home didn’t deter Dutton one bit.
“Honestly, I wanted to go far away,” said Dutton, who plans to major in biology with an eye on attending veterinary school after his undergraduate studies. “Originally I was looking at schools in California, but that didn’t work out. But I’m happy to be going to school in Florida.”
Which isn’t to say he won’t miss his high school friends and experiences.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” he said. “I’m going to miss seeing my friends every day. These are the kids I’ve grown up with and been friends with since elementary school. But I’m ready to move on and try something new.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong