Where are they now? Catching up with an Owls state champ

Name: Patrick Calhoun

Age: 32

Hometown: Seymour      

Current residence: Dunwoody, Ga.

Current occupation: District manager at Unarco Material Handling

Family: Wife, Anna; children, Claire and Jack; parents, Charles and Shara Calhoun; siblings, Chuck, Katie, Betsy and Anne

High school: Seymour, 1999

Sport: Swimming, four years

College: Auburn University

Major: Economics

Sport: Swimming

Athletics honors: In high school, state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1999; after high school, 2000 United States Olympian; in college, three-time Southeastern Conference champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, two-time NCAA runner-up in 100-yard breaststroke, 11 time NCAA All-American, team captain of the NCAA champion swimming and diving team in 2003

What drew you to sports?

“A flier was sent out to the elementary schools in Seymour when I was in second or third grade. I thought ‘swim team’ sounded like a lot of fun. I pictured water slides and cannonballs. I never knew how much work swimming was or I may have reconsidered joining!”

What are your favorite memories of high school sports?

“I think I most enjoyed competing with my teammates during practice and learning how to work extremely hard toward a goal. Dave Boggs always encouraged goal-setting in practice and competition. Looking back at my high school swimming experience, I think I appreciate how goal-oriented and motivated I became with Dave’s help. Of course, the state meet in 1999 was a great memory. Not only did I win an individual event, but we had a relay finish second — Dennis Bowers, myself, Hiroya Matsubara and Justin Schneider. I think our team finished in the top 10 in the state that year, which we were very proud of.”

What was your biggest accomplishment?

“I would be lying if I didn’t say qualifying for the United States Olympic team. When I was 19, it obviously was a big deal. Looking back on it, I really can’t believe it happened. Just to qualify, you have to be either the first- or second-fastest in the United States for your event. It does blow my mind to think that I was able to get to that point. The fact that I got to represent the USA was really important, as well. Other than serving in the military, which is a much more important and honorable thing to do than swimming in the Olympics, I think representing the USA in the Olympics is as big of an honor I can think of.”

What did it take for you to be on the 2000 Olympic team?

“It took a lot of really good coaches and good parents. If either one of those two things didn’t exist, there is no chance I would have been able to do it. Dave Boggs was always very supportive and motivating to lay a great foundation for me as a kid and teenager. At Auburn, my coach, David Marsh, was able to take the work ethic and competitiveness I got from Dave (Boggs) and really build on that while refining my techniques. I was very lucky to have parents who supported me and were willing to sit through those dreadfully long swim meets when I was a kid. Luckily, my dad enjoys reading and my mom is about as patient as anyone I’ll ever meet. Otherwise, they may have told me to do something that didn’t consume eight hours on Saturdays and Sundays.”

How did you do at the Olympics?

“My event was the 100 breaststroke. I went in ranked third in the world and was hoping to medal. Unfortunately, I really bombed. I don’t even remember what exact place I finished, but I know it was around 20th. It was such an awful result, it isn’t even worth remembering. That was a huge disappointment for me, especially since I had family and Dave Boggs travel across the globe to watch.”

What was that experience like?

“It was really amazing to see how much work goes into it all. Also, Australia is a really wonderful place. If not for the Olympics, I don’t know that I ever could have gone. I just wish it wasn’t such a blur while I was going through it all. It seemed to go by too quickly.”

Why did you choose to do a sport in college?

“I did it because I was obsessed with getting faster and improving myself. I also got a partial scholarship, but really it was about continuing to work toward a goal and improving at something. It becomes addictive, and I wasn’t ready to stop after high school.”

What did you get out of that experience?

“The realization of how much harder I had to work to become better than everyone else. I was pretty overwhelmed and intimidated by the level of athletes on the Auburn team after my first workout. It made me a lot better, though, so I’m glad I decided to go there. Winning the team title at NCAAs in 2003 was my favorite experience of my swimming career. I also enjoyed bringing friends from foreign countries to Seymour during holiday breaks. I think they really liked Seymour.”

Are you still involved in sports today?

“I am not involved in sports currently. Once my children are older, I’m sure I’ll get involved with their teams in some way.”

Are your children involved in sports?

“My daughter, Claire, is turning 3 next week. She is very active but still too young for sports. I’m certain she’ll want to participate in any sport she can. Currently, she just makes up her own ‘sports.’ I’ll encourage her to participate in any sport she is interested in. I have a 3-month-old son named Jack, and I’ll do the same with him. As long as they don’t want to participate in a league where they don’t keep score, I’ll support them in doing just about any sport.”

How did sports affect your life?

“It made me realize the importance of continually working hard to achieve a goal. The minute you stop working hard is when you stop getting better. It makes you accountable for yourself, which is how things should be.”

What would you say to encourage kids to get involved in sports?

“I don’t know that I would recommend anything other than trying out more than one sport to see what you enjoy and what you are good at. I think it is more important for parents to back off when it comes to their kids and let the coach do his or her job. Some parents are so over-the-top; their kids are burned out at a young age and don’t want to continue because it becomes something they resent.”

Do you have any hobbies?

“Golf used to be a hobby, but there isn’t as much time for that anymore with the young kids. Maybe when the kids are older that will pick back up.”

Do you have a favorite sports team?

“All Auburn teams and the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Do you have a favorite athlete?

“Any professional golfer who plays fast. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker come to mind. My least-favorite athletes are slow golfers. That makes my round of golf take five-plus hours because the average hacker tries to copy the slow-playing pros on TV.”

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