Destin swimmer breaks county record

Tina Harbuck
Destin's Connor Bartlett set a county record in the pool in the 50 breaststroke during the Okaloosa County Middle School Swim Championships, finishing the event in 30.48 seconds.

In an effort to just beat his competitor, Destin’s Connor Bartlett edged out his competition and set a county record in the process during the Okaloosa County Middle School Swim Championships at the Bernie R. LeFebvre Aquatic Center in Fort Walton Beach.

“It just happened,” said the 13-year-old seventh grader.

“I was just trying to beat my competitor, but he happened to have the record. So I beat him and got the record,” he said.

Bartlett finished the 50 yard breaststroke in 30.48 seconds, with Nathaniel Rudman on his heels at 30.79, the previous record holder.

“Connor has been our most valuable boy swimmer for the past three years,” said Destin Swim Coach Terry Gulledge. “He holds all but two of the school records and is a big inspiration to his teammates.”

In addition to the breaststroke record, he almost set a new record in the 50 freestyle as well, just missing that record by .06 seconds, Gulledge said.

“I like the freestyle the best, but that record was particularly hard and I didn’t get it,” Bartlett said.

“I won it at county, but I didn’t get the record and that was the record I was going for,” he said.

Nevertheless he placed first in the 50 freestyle at 23.26 seconds.

He was also part of the boy’s 200 yard medley relay team that placed third. Others on the relay team with him were Noah Womack, Andrew Daigle and Carson Kale. The same foursome came in second in the 200 yard freestyle relay.

Bartlett, the son of Kathy and Eric Bartlett, has been swimming competitively for about four years.

He swims with Coast Aquatics year round, as well as with the Destin Marlins during the school year.

“It’s fun to compete and do good. And it’s fun when you do better than you usually expected you would,” Bartlett said.

But the victories in the pool do not come with out practice.

“I knew the county meet was coming up so I worked harder in practice … just pushing myself more than I usually do,” he said.

However, the 13-year-old has a couple of things working in his favor in the pool — his height and his technique.

Bartlett is 5-foot-9 and attends a summer camp to hone his skills.

“I go to summer swimming camp and it definitely helps with technique, especially in a technical stroke like the breast stroke. You have to get a good kick and it’s very technical.”

After middle school, Bartlett plans to go to Fort Walton Beach High School and work toward getting a scholarship.

But for now, he likes being a Marlin.

“I like being part of the team. It’s fun to talk to all the kids. It’s such a good group of kids we get to swim with here.”