Editor’s note: With social distancing guidelines firmly established, Sports Editor Daniel Mayes is conducting interviews with area athletes from the safety of a secluded corner of his home office. Quarantine Chronicles is a Q&A series with local sports standouts about their daily lives during the COVID-19 outbreak.
For Dalton High School rising senior Henry Bethel, a side effect of the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) means he’s been out of a pool for one of the longest periods in his life.
“I have not been in a pool in I guess eight weeks now,” Bethel said. “That’s definitely the longest I’ve been out of the water in the last three years.”
Bethel is a two-time Class 6A team champion swimmer at Dalton High, and he’s been named Class 6A swimmer of the year twice. He’s doing all he can to stay active in preparation for his senior swimming season and a return to a club team while the pandemic has kept him out of the pool.
Bethel misses being able to train, but thinks the adjustment won’t take long when he’s able to get back in the water.
“So much of swimming is feel oriented, so I don’t want to lose my feel for the water,” Bethel said. “It will come back pretty quickly, and it’ll provide an opportunity to get rid of some bad habits stroke-wise.”
Bethel spoke to the Daily Citizen-News about his life since the outbreak forced the cancellation of the remainder of the high school sports year.
Question: What are you up to while learning from home?
Answer: For my club team, we’ve been doing workouts over (video conferencing application) Zoom. For some extra exercise, I’ve been helping my uncle working on his farm out in the county.
Q: Do you like staying at home, or would you rather be in school?
A: I’d rather be in school just being able to see my friends, and it helps me to stay motivated to actually be in school and talking to teachers.
Q: What are your plans for after high school?
A: I’m committed to swim at Auburn after my senior year.
Q: What has been your favorite moment of your high school sports career?
A: Our high school state championship this year as a team. My freshman year, we won, and I played a role in that victory, but it was more about the upperclassmen. This year, looking back on it, it means a whole lot. My sophomore year, everyone thought we were going to win, but we didn’t take care of business. This year, we took care of business, and I was a junior and able to take more of a leadership position.
Q: What are your goals for swimming in your senior year?
A: We won team championships my junior year and freshman year. We lost a lot of depth through seniors last year. We’re trying to win a team championship again next year, that’s my biggest goal. I want to win my events at high school state and hopefully set state records. One recruiting service has me ranked 23 in my class and another around 30. It’s my goal to be ranked as a top-10 recruit in my class and hopefully make the United States junior national team. That’s my big-picture goal.
Q: What are you like outside of sports?
A: My family is very involved in our church, First Baptist Dalton. I’m involved in youth groups and youth choir. With school and swimming, I don’t get to hang out with friends as much as I want to, but I like going to movies with friends.
Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: Nick Chubb (former University of Georgia running back and current Cleveland Brown). He comes from a small town (Cedartown) in Georgia, too. The way he goes about his business, he performs at a high level, and he doesn’t have to tell anyone about it. I think performance is more valuable than talking yourself up.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: My favorite movie is “Forrest Gump.” It’s always a good laugh, but it has a strong emotional side to it as well.