KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Darton State College alumnus TJ Bland finished 11th in the 200 breaststroke at the USA Swimming Nationals in Knoxville, Tenn., recently.
Bland transferred this fall to NCAA D-1 powerhouse University of Western Kentucky after becoming a 1st Team All American and silver medalist in the 200 breaststroke during his sophomore year at Darton State.
At the USA Swimming National competition, however, he was swimming among a mix of professional, Olympic and high-profile D-1 collegiate athletes. Bland also managed to shave a full second off of his fastest 200 time at Darton, and finished in 54.2 seconds.
Bland was recruited from Baltimore to Darton by Cavalier head swim coach Will Breehl, and gave the Darton swim program credit for his success within the mental aspects of heavy competition.
“Coach Will found me and put me in a place where I could do well, obviously, at Darton,” Bland said. “He also put me into the right mindset to train hard and compete.”
Bland is a junior majoring in sports management and is presently busy wrapping up final exams at Western Kentucky. Soon he and the Hilltoppers will travel to South Florida for an intense training trip before they begin to taper and focus on winning the 2013-14 C-USA Conference Championships.
“He’s got a lot of talent,” Breehl said. “He’s really just tapping into it. He was kind of figuring out how to work hard here. He’s focused. He wants it.”