PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Local swimmer, Blair Wootson, is using mental training with the help of Olympic medalist, Caroline Burckle, to chase historic 12 gold medals.
Earlier this year, Wootson won 6 gold medals in Huntsville, Alabama, at the Southeast Swimming Championships for the short course races, and now he’s preparing for long course in Nashville.
Wooston currently holds the fastest times in the region for his age and will be coming in as a favorite, but he says his biggest improvement since the last competition has been mentally.
“A lot of people stop doing what they like to do in any sport because they aren’t having the correct mindset.,” Wootson said. “It takes mental strength, it’s not just having a toned body and stuff, and being able to lift a table or something.”
One of the young swimmer’s biggest mentors is former team USA Olympic medalist and co-founder of Rise Athletes, Caroline Burckle, she came to meet Wootson through his viral Swim 50 for Change challenge, which she also completed herself.
“I was inspired,” Burckle said. “It inspired me. It taught me that you don’t have to do what everybody thinks, you just do what makes you feel empowered in that moment. And at a young age, I think that with so many peer pressures in this world on social media, and on some of these platforms, to just be like I’m going to do something, and I’m going to create this change in the way that I want to create it, was super cool, I thought that was admirable.”
Burckle’s program, Rise athletes has a mission to empower young athletes through mindset and through mentorship, and she said that while she loves playing that role in Wootson’s life, his mindset is already well beyond his years.
“Just the fact that he is aware of this stuff now will just provide him with those tools as he gets faster and faster and goes to the Olympics,” Burckle said. “And someday he can look back and say I’m super glad that I had that support and understood what that meant.”
And with his upcoming championship meet in Nashville next weekend, he knows he’s getting one step closer to following in his mentors’ footsteps.
“My goal is to compete at the highest level,” Wootson said. “To swim against the best of the best at Olympics, and hopefully I’ll be able to do that in Paris in 2024, and again, if I don’t make it in 2024, I’ll have a second chance in 2028, maybe even 2032.”
The SES Championships will take place July 16-19.