Okie Swimmer Defeats World Backstroke Champion

by Nathan Gunter

08/05/2010

Oklahoma City native David Plummer had swimfans around the country scratching their heads and asking, “Who?” as he touched out 100-meter backstroke world champion Aaron Piersol at the wall at the U.S. National Championships in Irvine, Calif. this week. He clocked in at 53.60 seconds; Piersol was right behind at 53.63.

At the beginning, as with any swimming event of the last two years, all eyes were on half-shark, half-human herbalist Michael Phelps, who, despite finishing the 200 freestyle in 1:45.61 – the fastest time in the world this year – described his fitness on a scale of one to 10 as a “five and a half.” His coach, Bob Bowman, put him at a four.

So with the world continuing to look away from Phelps’ “lackluster” (are we ever really satisfied?) post-Beijing career, Plummer stepped into take the spotlight with his .03-second win over Piersol. Plummer, who grew up in Oklahoma City, swam for yours truly’s alma mater, Westmoore High School, swam at the collegiate level for the Minnesota Gophers, and has been on the national scene for a decade or more. David’s older brother Ryan also was an All-American swimmer; Westmoore swim coach Wade Williams has a history of producing them.

“I made my first national team when I was 16, and that was eight years ago, the national junior team,” David told the L.A. Times. “I’ve been working for a really, really long time and to have it pay off like this is huge. It means a lot to me.

“It does get cold in Minnesota. I don’t even know where to start. Being able to walk away with a gold medal against a field like that, it makes me think I can be the best in the world one day. That’s every swimmer’s dream. You can do it from anywhere. You don’t have to train next to the best in the world to be the best in the world.”

Photo courtesy Flickr user Dennis Wong.