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Spring Grove High School swimming standout plans to compete for Florida

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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Daniel Gordon
  • Swimmer Daniel Gordon is a standout freestyle sprinter at Spring Grove High School.
  • Gordon has accepted an offer to compete for the Florida Gators at the NCAA Division I level.
  • Florida finished third in the NCAA Division I men's swimming championships in 2021.
  • Gordon won two PIAA 3-A swim medals in 2021, taking fourth in the 100 free and sixth in the 50 free.

Nearly every athlete chases after dreams.

For many, they serve as motivation to get better and reach goals they’ve set for themselves.

Spring Grove High School swimming standout Daniel Gordon mixes both as his fuel to become great.

The freestyle sprinter realized a big part of his next dream recently when the rising senior made his official declaration to accept an offer from the University of Florida to compete at the highest level of collegiate swimming in the fall of 2022.

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“Being a Gator was always my dream school,” said Gordon, who earned a pair of PIAA medals as a junior at the Class 3-A championships this past March (fourth in the 100 free and sixth in the 50 free). “I’ve always been a big fan of the Gators and loved the thought of being able to go there eventually.”

Florida’s recruitment of one of Pennsylvania’s top swimming prospects was anything but a sprint. Gordon received offers from many different NCAA Division I schools, most of which are ranked in the top 20 nationally.

Gordon’s dream school, however, wasn’t one of them. Instead of waiting, Gordon proactively reached out to Florida’s coaching staff to express his interest.

“We didn’t get in contact until later in my recruiting process,” Gordon said. “But then a lot of things just kind of fell into place. It just worked out perfectly and it was just the school that I knew that I wanted to go to.”

The competition will be tough: The Rocket sprinter knows that making a name for himself on a star-studded squad in Gainesville won’t be easy.

Florida finished third in the NCAA Division I men’s swimming championships in 2021 and typically recruits and signs many of the nation’s top swimmers.

While nothing will be handed to Gordon, he wouldn’t want it that way.

“I know that it will take a lot of hard work,” he said. “Because they are a very fast school.”

Spring Grove High School's Daniel Gordon won two PIAA Class 3-A swimming medals in 2021, taking fourth in the 100 freestyle and sixth in the 50 freestyle.

The education component: Gordon, who is constantly striving to improve his trade either with his high school program or with his club team at the York YMCA, also had to work hard in the classroom to be a viable addition into the Gator program.

“I had to work to keep my grades up because they are also very strong in academics,” he said.

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Gordon isn’t quite sure what he will focus on academically at Florida, although he has a short list that includes mathematics, engineering or medicine.

“What also drew me was that the Gators are very strong in every single one of those fields,” he said. “So that will give me a little bit more time to help me figure out what I eventually want to do.”

Spring Grove swimming head coach Derrick Henning talks with Daniel Gordon during a meet in January.

Hoping to follow in Dressel's footsteps: Regardless of his classroom studies, Gordon is excited to realize a dream he’s had for most of his life.

It’s one that he hopes will follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero, Caeleb Dressel.

“He was one of my idols,” Gordon said. “He swam with the Gators and he swam the same events as me (the 50 free and 100 free), although he was pretty much good at everything. He has the fastest 50 free time ever recorded at 17.63 (seconds) and I just always kind of looked up to him.”

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Praise for Flickinger: Dressel is currently on the U.S. Olympic men’s swim team, where he is a teammate of another Spring Grove swimming superstar in Hali Flickinger.

Gordon has been impressed by the groundswell of support that Flickinger has enjoyed around Spring Grove and York County. Flickinger won a bronze medal on Saturday in the 400 individual medley and is favored to win another medal in the 200 butterfly.

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“My family is close friends with her family, so I know her pretty well,” Gordon said. “She swam at Spring Grove and at the York (YMCA), where I swim at. And I think that what she’s doing right now is just amazing. I know she puts in a lot of hard work and she’s deserved everything that she’s gotten and I’m really proud of her.”

Sharing credit with his family: Gordon shared credit for his success with his family members, who have made it possible for him to pursue his dream.

“I owe a lot to my parents for this commitment,” he said. “My family in general has given me lots of opportunities to go to different meets all over the country and they helped really get me into swimming in the first place. So, I owe a lot to them as well as my grandparents for always coming out to support me.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.