By JONATHON MYERS
Shortly after his birth, Dalton Herendeen needed the lower half of his left leg amputated due to a blood clot. Fortunately, a man like Herendeen only needed one leg to be successful. Dalton earned himself a place on the 2012 U.S. Paralympic swim team roster in London.
Despite giving it his all In London four years ago in the 200-meter individual medley, 100-meter breaststroke, 100-meter butterfly, 100-meter backstroke and 400-meter free, he did not bring home any medals from his experience.
After graduating from the University of Indianapolis, he joined University of Mary Washington’s head swim coach Abby Brethauer’s staff, and recently was named the new head site coach for the Stingrays Swimming club at the Jeff Rouse Swim and Sport Center in Stafford County. He and a staff of assistant coaches coached 218 kids of all ages according to TeamUSA.org. Coach Brethauer invited Dalton to coach swimming at UMW, where he began training for the Rio Paralympics.
According to Doug Williams of TeamUSA.org, “In college he said he’d swim about 16,000 yards a day. Now he’s doing 4,000 to 5,000 daily, but it’s ‘quality over quantity,’ with an emphasis on technique and a ‘focused understanding’ of how he needs to improve.”
As a result of this new regimen, Dalton has shaved seven seconds off of his 100-meter breaststroke, putting it at 1:14. To put that into perspective, the number one swimmer in his classification is at 1:10, with second place at 1:12 and third at 1:13. Meaning that by shaving even one more second off of his time puts Dalton in position to medal.
This could well be Dalton’s last opportunity to do so. In 2015 at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Scotland, Dalton injured his right knee, leading to reconstructive surgery. Dalton admitted to Doug Williams in his report that he did not think he would even make it to Rio by 2016. Doctors told Dalton that his right leg is more like that of a 48-year- old than of a 23-year- old athlete. A lifetime of putting extra pressure on his right leg to compensate for his amputation has taken its toll on his health. By combination of grueling work and Coach Brethauer’s encouragement, Dalton managed to recover enough to qualify for the games in Rio this year.
Regarding Herendeen and his time in Rio thus far, Coach Brethauer said, “Dalton and I have been in daily contact both while he was at staging camp in Houston and since he has been in Rio. He is having a great time representing the US and cheering for his teammates, he said the atmosphere is crazy and the place is so loud for every race you can barely hear the people next to you.”
He is swimming a total of six races in this Paralympics. His 200-meter Individual Medley was just off his best time, however he had his best ever breaststroke split which speaks to the effectiveness of the specialized breaststroke training he’s been doing with Coach Brethauer. Additionally, his 100-meter fly was 4/10ths under his previous best.
When asked about how Dalton feels about all this, Coach Brethauer said, “Talking to him after his races he was psyched to kick things off so well in the 200 IM, and was pleased to stick to his race plan. The 100 fly proved that he is ready to sprint and can finish his races strong.”
Coach Herendeen will also be competing in the 400-meter freestyle on Sept. 15 and the 400-meter relay on Sept. 17.