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Paul Klee: Ex-Cheyenne Mountain swimming star Daniel Carr stays hungry after NCAA run with powerhouse Pac-12 program

By: Paul Klee
March 26, 2018 Updated: March 27, 2018 at 8:00 am
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Cheyenne Mountain’s Daniel Carr is the 2017 Peak Performer of the Year in boys swimming. Pictured Friday, June 2, 2017, at the Colorado Springs Country Club. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

DENVER — All things considered, it’s just what you’d expect from Cal-Berkeley.

World-class swimming.

And tofu.

Talk about on-brand.

“In Berkeley there’s not a lot of meat on campus,” Cal Bears stud freshman and ex-Cheyenne Mountain swimming star Daniel Carr said on Monday. “Almost all of our cafeterias on campus are vegan.”

Oof. Can a young man who’s obligated to consume 6,500 calories — every day! — survive on black beans and veggie burgers alone? Coming home to God’s country, if only for spring break, allowed Carr a welcome respite from the NoCal dietary options that make even birds and bunnies blush.

“He's going to Chick-fil-A?” his Cal coach, Dave Durden, said when I tattle-taled on Daniel. “He should! He deserves it! Go eat, man.”

Then it’s back to work. Hey, the three-time Colorado male swimmer of the year isn’t getting to the Olympic Games in 2020 without a few sacrifices along the way. It was just last week when Cal and Carr narrowly missed a national championship — and finished second without a single title in an individual or relay event, showcasing the depth of a men's program that’s finished in the top two nine straight years. Texas won the NCAA title.

Carr competed in four events at the national meet, including the 100- (he placed 11th) and 200-meter backstroke (10th). Sounds like heavy stuff — and it is — but then you take a peek at Cal’s roster and see why the Pikes Peak Athletics record-holder chose Cal in the first place.

“Two of the best backstrokers in the world” swam alongside Carr on a daily basis, his coach said. Ryan Murphy (gold at the Rio Games) and Jacob Pebley (fifth at Rio) set a lofty bar. It was in practice — not the Pac-12 or NCAA championships — that Carr had his welcome-to-the-big-time moment. He glanced right, then left, and saw Murphy and Pebley at either side.

“I was star-struck for probably the first two months,” said Carr, who set multiple state records and helped guide Cheyenne Mountain to a pair of Class 4A state titles. “Ryan, he’s an absolute monster in practice. And he does everything right outside of practice. He eats correctly. He surrounds himself with amazing people that make him better. He just has balance in his life. It’s a great model for me.”

Durden, his coach, said on the phone: “The thing that I like about Daniel and his continued projection in the sport is that he’s still young. I don’t know if the guy shaves his face more than once a week. He’s still a young body and he's going to grow into it. And he’s not satisfied with being good. He wants to be great. That drive is something you can’t coach into somebody. You either have it or you don’t.”

The Summer Olympics are in Tokyo in 2020.

“It’s always in the back of my mind,” Carr said.

After a meaty snack.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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