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Friends attending his signing ceremony joked Dylan Lake decided to move to Lakeland, Fla., just so he wouldn’t forget the name of his new town.
But there’s no joking about Lake’s talent in the water.
Lake, a Los Alamos High School senior, signed his National Letter of Intent to attend Florida Southern College during a ceremony at the school last week. Lake will join the FSC Mocs’ men’s swim team next year.
The Mocs — short for Moccasins — finished eighth in the NCAA Division-II National Swimming Championships last month and Lake is thrilled to be joining the program.
Moreover, he’s happy to be through with the process of figuring out where he might spend the next four years.
“I’m pretty excited that I finally made a decision,” Lake said. “It’s final.”
Lake is among the top swimmers Los Alamos’ boys program has produced in recent years. During his time in high school, Lake turned into a formidable distance swimmer.
He did not swim for the Hilltoppers during the 2009-10 or 2010-11 prep seasons, electing instead to swim in the club circuit. Foregoing prep swimming is fast becoming a popular option of top high-school aged swimmers throughout the country.
It wasn’t until later on in his college shopping that Lake had learned about — or even heard about — Florida Southern. Lake had looked at schools such as Wyoming and Grand Canyon State in Phoenix.
However, Lake’s coach, Bev Leasure, a former head coach of the LAHS program, tipped him to the program. Leasure’s brother coaches swimming in Florida and was familiar with the Mocs and their success.
“It’s a really small school, about 2,000 people,” Lake said. “It’s got a really great feel. It’s suburban, it’s got a really beautiful campus.”
Before heading off to school — the team’s first practice is Aug. 24 — Lake said he’s going to continue competing in swim events. Two of the events he’s hoping to get into are the Junior Nationals and a sectional event in Florida.
To get into the Florida sectionals, he needs only permission from the event director, which he received last year.
He’s still hoping to qualify for the Junior Nationals. In January, Lake posted a time in the 500-yard freestyle that was just two seconds off automatically qualifying.
In that meet, held in Southern California, Lake chopped six seconds off his previous best time to get within striking distance of a national qualifying time.
Earlier this season, Lake posted the fifth-best time in the nation for 17-year-olds in that event.
In college, Lake said he’s looking at staying with the 500 freestyle and maybe adding the 1,000 freestyle and the 400 individual medley.
Florida Southern is coached by Duncan Sherrard, who will go into his third season in 2011-12. The Mocs have had two of the most successful seasons in program history under his direction.
Returning for the Mocs next season is Jeb Halfacre, who won the 200 backstroke Division-II national championship last year.
Lake said he’s aware things only get tougher from here on out, but said he’s going to do everything he can to prepare.
“I’ll keep training…doing the same stuff I’ve always done,” he said. “A lot of yardage, a lot of fast stuff. I haven’t backed off and I won’t before I leave.”