Applegate, Diaz thrive as part of Blue Dolphins

DALLAS — Gabe Applegate loved the water, though the thought of racing never crossed his mind.

“I loved diving and doing the doggie paddle,” he said.

But something about the challenge of competitive swimming proved irresistible.

“It loo-ked like the hardest sport,” he said.

Isabel Diaz joined the Blue Dolphins after watching her siblings, including 2016 Dallas High graduate Lucas Diaz, join the program.

“Before I joined, I used to like just splashing around,” Diaz said.

Both swimmers soon discovered just what competitive swimming would be like.

“It was hard for me because I didn’t know how a swim team operated,” Diaz said.

Neither were quite sure what competitive swimming would hold for them, but both have found they feel right at home.

The pair has become two of the Blue Dolphins most promising swimmers.

Diaz placed second in the girls 400-yard individual medley (13-14) in Albany on June 5.

Applegate took third in the 50 backstroke (13-14).

For Applegate, his success in the backstroke was a bit of a surprise given just how hard he found it.

“It’s hard because you can’t see where you’re going, so you might hit your head,” he said.

Applegate, who also plays football and track and field, uses swimming as a way to crosstrain. But he’s also found he’s taken a liking to the thrill of meet days.

Meets are the culmination of hours of training. While practices can be difficult, to see it pay off in a race makes it all worth it.

“To race other people, it’s so much fun,” Applegate said.

For Diaz, living up to what her siblings accomplished proved to be a difficult task at first.

“It was a little harder because (my siblings) already had times recorded and were pretty good,” Diaz said. “Trying to keep up with what they did was a little bit of a struggle.” 

It was when she decided to swim for herself that things began to change.

“Focusing on what I can do and not on what others can is important,” Diaz said.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about swimming for Applegate and Diaz is the sense of community and the new friends they’ve made along the way.

In the end, that sense of community is what has kept them coming back.

“What surprised me is how much others actually help you,” Diaz said. “We’re like a family.”

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