A swimmer’s dream

Published 12:04 am Thursday, April 24, 2014

0424 spt-BJ, Gavin pump

Andalusia swimmer BJ Donaldson (far right) gets dabs from his father, Gavin (left in white), during a swim meet last year at the Troy Sportsplex. | File photo

Donaldson commits to Darton State College

When BJ Donaldson was 13 years old, he turned to his dad, Gavin, and told him that his dream is to one day swim for a college.

Donaldson’s dream has come true as the Andalusia senior recently committed to swim at Darton State College in Albany, Ga.

“It’s a very big opportunity,” Donaldson said. “I met with the coach first at the Peanut Festival (in Dothan), and he told me that he had a spot on the team for me.”

Donaldson, who has been swimming since he was 8 years old with the Andalusia Swim League (ASL), went on a recruiting visit at DSC, where he spent the night in the dorms and got the chance to hang out with the Cavaliers swim team.

“I wanted to see what it was like, and I decided that I wanted to go to Darton,” he said.

The decision for Donaldson came down to between Darton and Birmingham-Southern College. Mars Hill out of Ashville, N.C., was also interested.

Donaldson said his final decision to attend the junior college came down to his future teammates’ goals.

“They all shared the same goal I share, which is to move on to a bigger college — to a D-1 or D-2 college and pursue that dream,” he said. “I’ve had this dream since I was 13. I told my dad that I wanted to swim for a college. He said, ‘Alright, let’s go after it.’

“Now, here I am,” he said.

Gavin, who has been BJ’s ASL swim coach since his son was 11, said the foundation for his son’s swimming technique was established within the city’s league. For the past two years though, BJ has been going the extra mile to help build endurance during the offseason by swimming in the Unified Troy Swim and USA Swim leagues.

“He’s got several teammates who swim with Unified Troy Swim,” Gavin said. “I always wondered in the back of my mind did my swimmers have what it took to swim at the USA level?

“Being that Shane Tatum and Kirk Eisenburg put their time into (BJ) these last two years, I know that answer too,” he said. “I was able to help fill the foundation. Shane Tatum took what (BJ) had and built upon that.”

Donaldson said it took a lot of hard work and dedication to get to where he is right now as a future college swimmer.

“It took summers of hard work, and these past two years all year round,” he said. “It’s taken a lot out of me. It’s definitely made me more mature.”

What appealed coaches from Darton to Donaldson were his times he is turning right now with four days of practice per week, Gavin said.

“They know there’s a lot of potential left to unlock left inside of him,” the proud father said.

This summer will be BJ’s final season swimming for the ASL. He said he plans on making it his “best” year as the team starts its season on Saturday.

BJ is also the son of Mary Susan Donaldson of Andalusia.