When Dan Klotz was young, his mom Caroline thought he needed work on his swimming. She wasn’t happy with what he had learned in swim lessons but soon found out there was a swim team he could join to become a stronger swimmer.
Klotz joined the Berlin Dolphins when he was eight-years-old and he’s gotten to be a pretty strong swimmer. Mom is no longer worried if he’s going to drown in the pool.
Klotz, a junior at Berlin High School, had a historic meet for the Redcoat swimmers Tuesday night when he won two state championships in two different strokes at the Class M state meet. Klotz won the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.
“I wasn’t an awful swimmer when I was little but when my mom found out she could drop me and they’d make me swim laps for two hours it was a done deal,” Klotz said. “I have been swimming with club teams ever since. I swam with the Newington Tidal Waves, the Meriden Silver Fins and now with the Sonoco Swim Club.”
Berlin coaches Eileen and Dan Thurston could not stop singing the praises of Klotz after the meet.
“It was amazing,” Eileen Thurston said. “Dan is the first BHS swimmer to win two state titles in one night or ever. He has been a hard worker, great role model and teammate this year. He has been easy to coach. He is willing to trust us and do what we tell him! He has been a year-round swimmer for many years. His work ethic, drive to improve and his competitive nature in the pool have all contributed to that night's achievement.”
Klotz said he never liked the long-distance events because he always died out at the end. He thought his best events were 50 and 100 free but decided to swim in the 200 free and 100 fly because he needed time in between the events to recover.
“As it turned out I had about 40 minutes in between the two events which was perfect for me to get ready for the second race,” he said. “I knew people were really close to me, so for me, it wasn’t about who wanted it more it was about who trained harder.”
Thurston said Klotz followed the plan set out for him and his hard work paid off.
“Dan swam with confidence and took the lead right at the start in both races,” Thurston said. “His walls were a great advantage (the turns and tight streamlines after the turns coupled with his powerful kicks) he increased his lead at each turn. Dan never gave up and success was his.
“Our statement to him is to ‘believe’ in the hard work you have put in and you will reach your goals".
Thurston said for any swimmer or school winning a state title is big but to win two events that are two different strokes in a tough class like Class M is huge. Klotz was the only double winner in the meet. For Berlin High this is the first Class M champion we have had for either the girls or boys program, Taylor Friedmann was the only other one to win an event and that was the state open 200 free in 2009.
Assistant coach Dan Thurston added, “Dan has risen to challenges ever since he came in as a freshman, whether in a tight conference dual meet, a conference championship meet, or a state-level meet. In the 100 butterfly, he dethroned the two-time defending champion in the event, hopped out of the pool and his reaction after we congratulated him was the statement ‘I want to go faster.’ He has been working hard for a long time to see this success and deserves every bit of the success and attention that comes with it.”
Klotz indeed said he didn’t take much time to celebrate.
“Everyone was telling me to enjoy it but all I could think was I need to go faster because a lot of swimmers were close to me,” said the son of Ed and Caroline Klotz. “I want to do well at the Open Saturday at Yale.”
Klotz, an honor roll student, hopes to swim in college and hopes that his swimming skills will help him look at a higher level of academic institutions. But before that, he has another year of high school swimming to go. What is it like having people say he is the best swimmer the program has ever had?
“I mean it’s cool but I don’t really think about it,” said Klotz, who owns seven school records. “The Berlin program is so young so I’m not sure what kind of swimmers they have had in the past. It has been cool beating times of my former teammates who have graduated. I don’t think too deeply about because I compete mostly against the clock and myself.”