Three Azle swimmers stood in amazement Saturday watching Denton junior DJ Lang win the 200-yard freestyle at a Class 4A district meet at the Denton ISD Natatorium.
One swimmer said, “That’s DJ Lang. Everybody knows his name around here.”
For Lang, finishing 13th at the state meet last season in the 100 freestyle after also qualifying with the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams gave him a taste of success.
In the first of three key steps towards this year’s state meet, Lang was pleased with his winning time of 1:46.62 in the 200 freestyle.
“I was tapering for the state meet and not so much for this meet,” Lang said of his conditioning routine. “That’s probably why my time wasn’t quite as good as my seed time. That best time, I was in a fast suit, which is a lot different than what I wore today. That helped a lot. I probably will wait to shave until state because that’s when I’ll be against the highest competition. I am right where I need to be and I’m happy with my times.”
Lang earned Swimmer of the Meet honors and won the 100 freestyle with a time of 48.05.
Many swimmers use high-drag suits for training along with tapering techniques that impact the body’s recovery process. They shave their bodies to help them cut through the water just a bit faster.
For Lang, the process began in August with his club team.
“The season started for me at the end of August, and I have been training 20 to 24 hours a week,” Lang said. “I’m actually going to a nutritionist to help me maintain my body weight and help me perform the best I can. I’m steadily losing more fat and gaining muscle.”
Lang said his goal is to medal at state in both of his individual events.
“In the 100 free, I expect to be top-three,” Lang said. “My time goal is about a 45, and right now my seed time is 47.8. It’s actually been a steady drop as far as each season goes. My freshman year I was about a 52. Last year I brought it down to a 48. My freshman year [in the 200 freestyle], I was at 1:50. Last year I was at a 1:45, and this year I am hoping to go 1:39 or 1:40.”
Lang said he hopes to swim collegiately but his education is his priority.
“I am looking to swim in college in Division I at Texas A&M or Alabama,” Lang said. “I am just going to have to see where it goes from there. As far as education goes, it’s a priority and I’m looking into going into engineering, and that takes a lot of time.”
As for the two relay teams he’s on, Lang said he has just as much confidence in their ability to make it to state, even with Lang swimming his self-proclaimed second-best stroke.
Denton’s 200 individual medley relay team won at the district meet with a time of 1:46.15, more than four seconds faster than second-place Trophy Club Nelson. The 200 freestyle relay team also won, beating Nelson by 0.38 seconds.
“I feel really confident about it,” Lang said. “All those people that have been competing for that final spot have had major time drops this season, and it has been very competitive. I’m actually fine doing [butterfly] — it’s actually my secondary stroke. I’m actually good at it, but I’d rather be doing freestyle because that’s what I train the most at.”
Denton freshman Elise Page also is blazing trails, winning the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle events and advancing to regionals with two relay teams. The 200 medley relay team beat second-place Nelson by nearly two seconds, and the 200 freestyle relay team finished second, just a second behind Nelson.
Page said she has a harder time in relays because of added pressure.
“I’m very self-independent,” Page said. “It makes me more nervous because I know they are depending on me and I’m depending on them. When it’s just me, either I do or I don’t go fast and it doesn’t interfere with anyone else. We just have some really good people on our relay, so I feel really good about that. Bryon Nelson is our biggest competitor today, so I feel really good.”
Page won the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:01.59 and the 100 freestyle in 55.34.
“I really would have liked to have been under two minutes, but this is just my first week of tapering, so I was really happy with it,” Page said. “It’s hard to be patient. I just have to realize that working hard is all I can do and that’s what I am doing. I hope to be at a 53 [seconds in the 100 freestyle at the end of the year] and I would love to be at a 49. Obviously faster than that is good. The college I want to go to, their fastest swimmers are like 48 or 47 in the 100 free.”
Page said she wants to swim for SMU but hasn’t made up her mind. She just wants to stay in Texas. For now, Page is in position to make a run at state.
“I think it’s going to be close if I make it or not because there are some really fast swimmers,” Page said. “I’m a freshman, so I feel like there will be a lot of seniors. I feel like I will make it to state and possibly a final, but that may be shooting high.”
DISC aquatics director Chris Cullen said there was a bit of an upset in the boys 100 breaststroke as Tristen Parish broke a Guyer record with a time of 1:01.13 — with the previous record at 1:02 — in beating Denton’s Cody Knapp, who was seeded almost 3 1/2 seconds quicker than Parish.
Other notable performances Saturday saw Denton’s Bri Broussard take second and Guyer’s Brooke Scherer third in the girls 200 individual medley. Denton’s Anthony Milbitz took first in the boys 100 backstroke, while teammate Rachel Crews took first in the girls 100 breastroke.
Guyer’s Christina Coon took second in the girls 50 freestyle, and Parish placed third in the boys 50 freestyle. Denton’s Kevin Ye placed third in the boys 100 butterfly.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.