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Swimmer Brogdon vying for third league title
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Gordon Brogdon is determined.

Less than four months have passed since he had major surgery on his right shoulder. And the 2004 Ceres High graduate has already returned to form.

"If I set my mind to something, I'm not going to quit or stop," said Brogdon, who has been a member of the Ceres Dolphins recreation swimming team for four years.

Brogdon, 17, is closing in on his third-consecutive Mid-Valley Swimming League (MVSL) crown. He hasn't lost an individual race in two years and has broken a handful of records and collected a host of awards along the way.

In 2003, he compiled a 24-0 record and won the MVSL 15-16 boys division title. On Saturday, Brogdon will put his perfect record on the line at the 2004 league championships at Pitman High School in Turlock. Barring disqualification and/or a major upset, he should take home the 18-and-under title and finish the season at 24-0.

"It's not something I go out and try to do," said Brogdon, who swims the 100 individual medley, 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke events. "I just go out there and do my best.

"This is just a recreational league. I'm here for fun and to stay in shape."

Brogdon never imagined that he would enjoy this much success.

"Not at all," he said. "I sucked my freshman year in high school."

Brogdon welcomes the attention.

"I'm happy because I'm doing so good," he said. "I got all these little kids looking up to me. That's why it's worth it."

Brogdon said one of the reasons he tries so hard is because he doesn't want to let Kevin Calou down. Calou, a former Dolphins swimmer and coach, approached Brogdon at a practice last season and said, 'I'm passing the torch to you.'

"It's mine for now," Brogdon said. "And when I'm done, hopefully someone takes it over and does as well as I did.

"I'm just following in the tradition (of Calou and Robert Holder)."

Brogdon has shattered five records this season.

He broke 100 IM, 100 free and 100 back records at the Oakdale Invitational. He broke the 100 back records at the Hughson and Tracy Invitationals.

"It's just amazing--the things he could do," said Terry Brogdon, Gordon's father.

Terry said his son's times would be even better if his age bracket featured tougher competition.

"There's not too much competition in my age group," Gordon said. "Most of the time I'm swimming against the clock because no one is pacing me."

Winning the 100 free at the league meet won't be an easy task according to Brogdon. Hughson's Nick Zambruno is a capable competitor.

"That's the only guy who will give me trouble," Brogdon said.

Brogdon has collected many ribbons and trophies while competing for the Dolphins. He's never counted them.

"I have never missed a single meet in four years," he said.

Brogdon injured his shoulder at practice in February 2003 and put off surgery for more than a year after receiving differing opinions from several doctors.

"The reason I kept swimming when my shoulder was injured was so I could recover sooner," he said.

The surgery, which was conducted at the Modesto (McHenry) Medical Center in March, lasted two hours and 15 minutes. Brogdon has a scar on the top of his shoulder.

"The doctor ran a titanium wire through the bone and put a cushion in between," Brogdon said.

Brogdon rehabilitated his shoulder in Modesto.

"I did that non-stop for a month and a half, three or four times a week," he said. "I was just that determined."

Brogdon started swimming a month after the surgery. He returned to the Ceres High team and tied for 18th in the 100 free in a personal-record time of 50.54 seconds at the section championships.

"I wasn't supposed to swim for another month," he said.

Brogdon said his shoulder gets sore every now and then.

"I want to get my shoulder back to par and I want to be able to compete in college," he said.

Brogdon will go to Modesto Junior College in the fall.

He started practicing with the water polo team on Monday.

He'll join the Pirates' swimming team in 2005.

Brogdon wants to transfer to Long Beach State.

"They're the only school that has a Master's program in criminal justice," he said.

Brogdon also wants to tryout for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team.

"If I don't make it, I can at least say I tried," he said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier