Standing at the podium with a beautiful, gold Olympic medal around his neck is a major goal for Denton High School senior D.J. Lang. He is going to begin pursuing his goal at the University of Alabama.
Although he loves swimming and received a swimming scholarship, he is planning on majoring in electrical engineering.
“Swimming in college is something I really want to do,” Lang said. “But I also got most of the scholarship money from academics, which are my main focus in college.”
Lang signed a his letter of intent on Nov. 14.
“Giving me a scholarship and letting me swim on the team really sealed the deal for me,” Lang said.
His coach, Robin Ho, is proud of him but not surprised by the scholarship.
“I knew from the start that he would get a scholarship in swimming,” Ho said. “I just didn’t know if it would be from a [Division I] college, but he definitely deserves it.”
Division I colleges have the most competitive athletic programs, which make them more difficult to get into, especially for a sport.
“I am actually one of the first students to go to a D-I college on a scholarship for swimming [from] this school,” Lang said.
Lang holds the district records for 100-meter, 200-meter and 500-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle relay, 200-meter medley relay and holds the school record for 200-meter individual medley. He goes to swimming practice in the morning for Denton High School and then goes for club work outside of school six times a week.
“I practice about 24 hours every week,” Lang said. “It is very demanding at times, especially all the driving, which is why I am looking forward to college.”
Lang visited the University of Alabama during the spring break of last year.
“I met the coaches during my campus visit,” Lang said. “I have been maintaining contact with them ever since.”
Lang enjoyed the campus and the coaches he met, which helped him decide he wanted to attend Alabama. He didn’t consider any other school after visiting it.
“The University of Alabama was my number one choice,” Lang said. “They seemed really interested in me for a while, so I became interested and I really liked the school.”
Lang’s tuition will be paid in parts through both his athletic and academic scholarships.
“I have most of my money coming from academics and that’s a good part of the tuition,” Lang said. “I’ve got a little bit more coming from the engineering department and then I’ve got a little bit more coming from the swim team, too.”
His parents, Patricia and Dennis Lang, say they’re very proud of him and have helped him get to where he is now.
“We have kept him organized and focused in swimming,” his parents said. “It really helped him get where he wanted to be.”
His parents feel very blessed, and are happy for D.J. since he has the opportunity to attend the University of Alabama as a scholar-athlete.
“He has worked hard and given up a lot of social activities to reach his goals,” the Langs said. “And for getting up every morning this past summer while a lot of his peers were still asleep, at 5 a.m. to drive all the way to Keller for practice.”
Lang is coming off his third consecutive trip to the UIL state swimming and diving meet, where he finished sixth in both the 100 and 200 freestyle.
Mohammad Alshara is a junior at Denton High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” program for student journalists.