Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Sports

February 19, 2014

Wildcat swimmer headed to state; making an impact in Godley

GODLEY — Godley sophomore Blake Howell has only been a Wildcat for less than three months, but he’s already leaving a lasting impression on the school and community.

On Feb. 8 in Mansfield, Howell qualified for the Class 4A state swim meet in two events. He came in first place in the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 1:58.14 and finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 58.75 seconds.

Howell and his family moved to the area from California recently, but it hasn’t taken long for Howell to make a difference in Godley. He donated a medal he won at the district swim meet to Owen Turner, the 9-month-old son of Godley Coach Joseph Turner and Allison Turner, who was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. Howell is also raising money — via his swimming — for the Turners.

“Coach Turner has helped me a lot with getting the swim program here set up because they do not have a swim team at Godley,” Howell said. “He helped me so much, when I heard his son was diagnosed with leukemia, I wanted to do something for them.”

At the regional meet, Howell had several businesses pledge to make donations for the Turners, and if Howell could break the one-minute barrier in the 100-meter breaststroke, their donations would double.

“I asked some people that my dad worked with if they’d make a pledge, and if I break the minute, which is difficult, if they’d double the money,” he said. “I broke it by 2 seconds. We thought it was a good way to raise money like that at the meet.”

So far, Howell said they have raised about $1,650 for Owen.

On Friday and Saturday, Howell, who has been a competitive swimmer for eight years now, will compete at the UIL Class 4A state swim meet.

Swimming for the UIL only involves Classes 5A and 4A, so athletes and teams from lower classification schools swim up to the 4A level.

“I’m looking forward to putting Godley on the map in swimming since it’s new and no one really thought this could happen because it’s a one-man team,” Howell said. “I’m also looking forward to just being there. UT is my favorite school and it’s one of the places I want to go to. It’s going to be cool to go there and see the campus.

“It’s going to be a good way to swim for Owen. I’ve dedicated the rest of my season for Owen and to help raise awareness for leukemia and for Owen himself. I want to do my best — for him.”

Howell said he’s aiming to get himself a podium spot in the 100-meter breaststroke.

“I’m seeded fourth in the 100 breaststroke right now for state, and I want to swim better so I can be on the podium for a medal in that event,” he said. “It’s a really close back, so I should be able to do it.”

Swimming competitively is a year-round ordeal for Howell, who also competes in club swimming. His ultimate goal is to qualify for the Olympics.

“If you really put your nose to the grindstone and try your hardest, you can achieve anything,” he said. “What you put in is what you get out of it. That’s the big thing for me. I’m hoping to make trials by the end of this year for swimming in the Olympics.

“That’s been my overall goal since I started. When I saw Michael Phelps win in Beijing, that really inspired me to do it. After that, I’ve just worked hard to do my best to get there.”

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