Success In and Out of the Pool For Connolly
Swimming has been an integral part of USC senior Dillon Connolly's life since he was six years old. The Marietta, Ga., native grew up playing baseball, but was influenced by his parents, who both swam recreationally. At age seven, he joined a competitive swimming club and quickly became sold on the sport.
He began to focus on swimming over baseball because it was a sport which was easier to judge because performances are based solely on times and he really enjoyed winning. His winning ways led to breaking the state record at every age group in his events and he quickly became ingrained in the Marietta Marlins, his club squad, sticking with the club and had the same coach for 12 years.
When it came time to choose a college, Connolly visited all of the big swimming schools, from Auburn to Texas. He knew he wanted to focus on swimming but he was also looking for something else in a university. "I knew I wasn't going to be swimming all my life, so I was looking for a college that would set me up best for life after my swim career," Dillon explained. "USC definitely was the best fit. I felt like they were going to set me up best for life. Of course the weather and the culture out here were selling points as well."
Dillon quickly found his niche with the school side of things at Troy. "Industrial systems engineering is a perfect fit for me. It is efficiency based and it is fun to problem solve," he said. "That comes naturally to me. I hope after I graduate to contract with companies and eventually start my own company."
His experience in the pool at USC has been an equally great experience for Connolly. The legacy of the swimming program at USC has been an experience that Dillon wouldn't trade for the world.
"It has been an incredible experience being a part of the swim program at USC," he said. "[Head coach Dave Salo] has produced so many incredible athletes and they all come back to train with the Trojan swim club. As a student athlete, you are afforded the ability to train with Olympians. It has been such a great experience and helped me to become a better swimmer."
Dillon has most definitely had success in his own right in the pool, as he is the school's record holder in the 100y and 200y breaststroke and scored points at the NCAA meet as a junior in 2010.
However, the ever-humble Connolly is quick to not focus on the records. "They are cool," Dillon said. "But I don't really throw them around. They do give me respect from Coach Salo, which means a great deal to me."
Dillon also brings the intangible skill of leadership to the table and was named co-captain of the team this year, along with junior Jeff Daniels. Connolly's knack for problem solving comes in handy when overseeing a large team with many different personalities. "As captains we all need to be on the same page," he said. "Our role is to cultivate a winning culture on this team and I like the challenge of that."
And they have been doing just that. The Trojans have been getting better and better every year. "We have an awesome freshmen class," he said. "They have barely lost this year. We are shooting to be top-five at the NCAA's this year and we feel like we are on track for that."
USC and Connolly are looking forward to the Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA Championships. "Our eyes are set on NCAAs," Dillon says. "We have been training hard and really feel like this is the year we can make an impact."