Greyhound swimmer Dalton Herendeen returned from his adventure in the 2012 London Paralympic Games on September 10 and was welcomed home by friends and teammates. A sophomore physical therapy major, Herendeen was chosen to represent Team USA in this year’s Paralympics and swam five individual events.
“Just being there was awesome. Olympic Village and all the noise, meeting people from all over the world and building relationships with them, it was a great experience,” Herendeen said. While Herendeen was disappointed that he did not medal, he said that he plans to build on this trip in his future with the Greyhounds. UIndy head swimming coach Gary Kinkead believes that the Paralympics have helped to mature Herendeen as an athlete.
“I think what it does is it gives him a lot of confidence in what he’s doing,” Kinkead said. “Going there, I think he realized how fortunate he was to be in a position 99 percent of athletes don’t get to be in.”
Herendeen stayed in contact with Kinkead during his time in London. He informed his coach about the atmosphere at the pool—something that was unlike anything Herendeen had ever encountered.
“Walking out to a crowd of 18,000 people gave me chills. Being there was definitely an unreal experience,” Herendeen said.
Kinkead is certain that those feelings will build the young athlete into someone even better.
“It’s going to help him be able to understand that he has to be calm before races, that he has to stay within himself and not focus on outside interferences,” Kinkead said. “His later events were better than his earlier events. He matured tenfold in those eight days.”
Both Herendeen and Kinkead came away with both valuable character-building and racing experiences (not to mention suitcases full of USA team gear). Both are certain that these experiences will play a major role as Herendeen continues to build his career.
“I really think that this is going to be a steppingstone, not only for his next three years with us, but for his Paralympics and his next trip, when he goes out to Rio,” Kinkead said. The coach also said that he believes Herendeen has a real opportunity to medal in the next Paralympics. Herendeen said that he will continue to work hard in his remaining years at UIndy and that he looks forward to what the future has for him at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Back in the United States, Herendeen and the rest of the USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House. On Sept. 13, Herendeen and the other athletes met President Barack Obama. Kinkead is proud to see his student-athlete gaining recognition for himself and the University.
“He’s a great ambassador for us [the swim team], he’s a great ambassador for the University, and he’s always been a positive influence,” Kinkead said. Kinkead said that Herendeen is still excited by the many new memories he has made—and that his career has only just begun.
—Scott Mitchell, September 26, 2012. Reprinted with permission of the Reflector.
Follow-up: As reported in the Fall 2012 Portico, UIndy sophomore freestyle/backstroke swimmer Dalton Herendeen, whose lower left leg was amputated for medical reasons when he was an infant, secured a spot on the U.S. men’s team at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. For a refresher about Dalton’s quest to reach London, visit http://portico.uindy.edu/2012/08/24/making-a-splash/.