Road to Rio: Oklahoma swimmer achieves dream

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Update: David Plummer finished third and won bronze in the men’s 100m backstroke.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Kathy Plummer doesn't see much difference in her son David, 30, as she looks through scrapbooks from his youth.

"To me, he's the same person, though he's changed a little bit," she said. "He's starting to get a lot of gray hair already."

Her walls and bookshelves are decorated with her son's photos, but Kathy will likely need more space to capture the next, prolific chapter in her son's career.

"I've always enjoyed watching the Olympics and seeing the stories of the athletes and their families and what they go through," she said.

Now, the Plummers have their own Olympic story to tell.

It started at the Norman YMCA.

David is one of four Plummer boys who would eventually swim competitively in Moore.

"When you've got four kids, and they're all in the pool, and it kind of takes away a lot of family time," Kathy said. "But, a lot of family time was spent going to local meets."

More time was spent in the water, with former swim coach John Brown, who remembers David's dedication, even at a young age.

"He's one of the hardest workers I've ever had," he said. "He had a competitive spirit. He loved to race. Kinda soft spoken until he gets in the water."

But, once he got in the water, his results screamed for attention.

At Westmoore High, David broke records, won state championships and set his goals high.

"Everybody pretty much knows me as that guy who swims," he told NewsChannel 4 his junior year. "After I get out of college, I'll hopefully put myself in a good position to maybe make a good shot at making the Olympic team."

It just took a little longer than he expected.

At the 2012 Olympic Trials, David fell short of the qualifying top two swimmers in the 100 meter backstroke - edged out by .12 seconds.

"No one wants to get third place," said friend and former teammate Krista Kezbers. "I think most swimmers agree it would be better to get 25th than to get 3rd and get that close and just barely miss."

Kezbers was there the night of the trials, when David came close to giving up on his Olympic dreams.

"It was really rough," Kezbers said. "I didn't say a word to him, just gave him a big long hug, and I don't think we talked about swimming for the rest of the week."

It took a month for David to decide he would keep swimming, keep training and keep trying to reach his goal.

"It was always his dream, and he just didn't let go of that dream," Brown said. "It's very incredible to keep persevering and going after it when the majority of people would have said 'Eh, it wasn't in the cards.'"

Especially, because Plummer knew, if he were to make the 2016 games, he would be in his 30s, with a family to take care of.

"When you're growing up, you're told, if you work hard, you can get what you want or close to it," Kezbers said. "It may have taken him a little longer than he wanted, but he got there."

Plummer qualified for the team, finishing second but clinching his first spot on Team USA.

"Oh, it was pretty crazy," Kathy said. "We were standing up in the stands, and I just remember I was screaming my head off, and of course I was having tears."

Now, Kathy is on her way to Rio, with an entire community in her corner.

"He came from here, he grew here, he lived here, he trained here, with the same coaches, a lot of them are still around," Kezbers said. "It's huge for our state."

Brown said, if his students don't know David's name yet, they will soon.

"I'm very proud of him," he said. "He represents a lot of athletes that have had the same aspirations from here."

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