Tatum wins school's first PIAA swim gold
Several months have passed since Eric Tatum became the first Salisbury swimmer to win a state gold medal.
But in a school year of many accomplishments for the Falcon athletic program, none shined brighter that Tatum's winning swim in 100 yard butterfly in the pool at Bucknell in March.
For his efforts, the senior-to-be is the Salisbury Press Male Athlete of the Year.
"I would say it has set in and when you get done with states and the season its been life as usual," Tatum said of his state title. "I'm training just as hard if not harder than before and you always want to get faster.
"There are moments where someone will metion it or you'll remember or tell someone aobut it and it's interesting to see the type of respect you get from people that don't know you, but know your title."
Tatum earned his title in arguably the most competitive race of the Class 2A boys meet. His winning margin with just 0.29 seconds and the top five in the event were all within 1.1 seconds of each other. Only the 50 and 100 freestyles had a closer gap between first and second and only the 50 had a top five as tightly bunched.
"One of the coolest things I saw was after the medal ceremony in 100 fly," Tatum said. "I was able to speak with the second and third place guys, people I've never met before and never knew, and we were able to spend a few minutes and talk to each other. Everyone enjoyed the race and had so much fun competing in one of closest races at state meet. It was pretty cool to meet the competitiors and see how much respect they have for the sport and for each other."
With a year left before he goes off to college, Tatum knows that he still has plenty of work to do. After taking the spring off from swimming and focusing on weightlifting to train, he was back in the pool swimming for Trident in the ABE League this summer.
While the races aren't as competitve as the high school season or the upcoming USA Swimming Sectional Tatum will swim in Buffalo, NY this weekend, the ABE meets provided a chance to get a feel for the water again.
While last year was historic for the Salisbury boys as they won their first ever District 11 Class 2A swimming title, Tatum isn't about to let the team rest on its laurels.
"I'm already very excited about next year and our goals have stepped up a lot higher than in the past," Tatum said. "We're looking at improving beyond what I've ever thought possible."
Along with defending his state title in the fly, Tatum was also a District 11 champ in the 100 free and was part of Salisbury's district-winning 400 free relay team and will defend those titles.
Those wins helped him earn the Dennis McGinley Award for the most outstanding swimmer at districts.
Tatum will also have a chance to lower several of the school records that he already owns. He has the Falcons' fastest time in the 100 fly, 50 free, 100 free and is on the fastest 200 and 400 free relay teams.
So far, having so much to defend this season hasn't altered much for Tatum.
"I try to make it not change my mindset. It's not really my race to lose, it's my race to win," Tatum said. "It's anyone's game and I can't expect to win all those races again.
"At same time, it does change how you look at things. You have more confidence and are more driven to win because you want to show people you earned the title that you have. At practices, you're expected to go a little bit harder and be a little bit faster. It puts on a little more pressure on you."