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Coach puts Gaylor 800 Speedo win into focus

A Bearden High School junior swimmer may have put himself “on the national level.”

John Paul Gaylor won the 800-meter freestyle at the Speedo Championships Series Southern Zone Eastern Sectional Swim meet last month in The University of Tennessee’s Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center.

In a field including Division I and Division II college talent featuring many of the best swimmers in the Southeastern United States (excluding Florida), Gaylor’s winning time (8:20.53) was more than five seconds better than his previous career-best.

“In the last two years he’s kinda exploded … he’s kinda put himself out there on the national level,” said Marshall Goldman, Gaylor’s former coach at BHS and former Pilot Aquatic coach now applying his trade in California.

“He’s a distance freestyler … he’s picked up some good speed in the last year,” Goldman added. “His 400-free in the summer and 500-free in the winter have gotten a lot better. In the 500-free, He’s ranked up there in the country.

“He gets into a rhythm and he just goes. It’s like watching a wind-up toy.”

Having worked with Gaylor for a number of years, Goldman said, “I coached him last summer when he got his short course national cut in the 800 and in the mile. A great kid, works very hard.

“If you look at him stature-wise, he’s only 5-[foot]-7, 5-8, he doesn’t have the wing span that a lot of swimmers have,” Goldman added. “But he’s got a lot of heart and a lot of grit.

“It’s very impressive what he did.”

During the Tennessee Swimming and Diving high school state meet in February, Gaylor finished fourth in 500-free.


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