Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton's Eugene Halpin wins four national swimming titles

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FEDERAL WAY, WA -- Few people can say they are the very best at what they do.

Even fewer can say it four times over, but Carthage College distance swimmer Eugene Halpin is one such person.

At the 2002 United States Disability Championships, the Chesterton freshman earned four national championships, winning the 400-meter freestyle (5:32.29), 800-meter freestyle (11:34.46), 1,500-meter freestyle (21:29.18) and 200-meter butterfly (3:39.98). Over the three-day meet, Halpin also finished third rd in the 100-meter butterfly (1:44.18) and 2nd in the 200 meter freestyle (2:39.87).

“To win four national championships was incredible,” said Halpin who added that the four wins put him on target for an even larger goal – the 2004 Para-Olympic team. “It was certainly my best showing in a meet of this caliber, but I know that I’ve got more ahead of me. The atmosphere of the meet was really incredible. USA Swimming has done a tremendous job of building this into a national an international event.

“This has allowed me more focus as I look towards making the Athens (site of the 2004 Para-Olympics) team. I came into the college season last year after taking a year off so I still feel like I can swim even better.”

Born with spina bifida, a disabling birth defect of the spinal column, Halpin competes for the Redmen in the distance freestyle events. As a freshman, he proved that disabled doesn’t mean non-contributor as he scored 65 dual meet points and finished 12th in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

“Geno is a guy who teaches me and everyone around him that we shouldn’t underestimate others just because they use a wheelchair,” says Carthage men’s swimming coach Greg Earhart, “It belies Geno’s intensity and his passion to compete.”

More than that, Earhart explains, Halpin has helped others overcome their own challenges.

“When you see a guy like Geno putting nose to the grindstone to overcome a tough challenge because of his disability, much less a tough opponent, you see how insignificant some of your own challenges are,” he said.

Halpin will spend the rest of his summer training with the Duneland Swim Club before returning to Carthage for his sophomore campaign. Last year Halpin helped the Redmen move from fifth to third place in the CCIW Conference.

The complete meet results can be found at www.usa-swimming.org.

 

Posted 6/20/2002