Aug. 21, 2006
Irvine, Calif. - James Barone, Loyola College class of 2002, captured a national title at last week's USA Swimming National Championships. Barone, a member of Michigan-based Club Wolverine, swam the breaststroke leg of the 400-meter medley relay which also included Davis Tarwater, Klete Keller and eight-time Olympic medalist and former Loyola Greyhound volunteer coach Michael Phelps.
Barone, a three-year captain and former MAAC Swimmer of the Year, set numerous school records and still holds marks in the 100-yard breaststroke (:56.35), 200-yard breaststroke (2:01:35), as well as the 200-yard backstroke (1:56.56) at Loyola. He credits much of his recent success to his years at Evergreen.
"My coaches and teammates at Loyola re-instilled my love for the sport of swimming," says Barone. "There is absolutely no way I could have trained for all those years if I wasn't passionate about what I was doing, and Loyola is the place where I found my passion again."
For Barone, Loyola was really about his teammates, "The team is such good group of people, the training and competition with them reminded me of why I love the sport, not just for the mental and physical challenge of achieving your best performance, but also the life-long friends I made along the way. I will be forever loyal to Loyola's swim team."
In Irvine last week, Barone also competed in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:02.95), finishing 13th after the morning preliminaries. The highlight of his final meet was his victory as a member of the 400-meter medley relay for Club Wolverine where he won a national title.
"The relay victory was bittersweet for me. While I was ecstatic to win a gold medal, I was also well aware that it was my last swim as a full-time athlete. So while I truly enjoy swimming with the `big dogs' on my relay team, it was a bit hard to come to grips with the fact that my days as an athlete were over."
Despite the end to a successful career, swimming has left Barone with a number of great memories. After Loyola, he continued to train with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC) and had the opportunity to become friends and training partners with world record holder Michael Phelps, whom Barone brought on as a volunteer coach at Loyola during the 2003-04 season under Head Coach Brian Loeffler. He has also had the opportunity to travel and compete on the international stage.
"Swimming after college brought me to places like Australia and New Zealand. My first trip to Australia was training focused, but the second time there was for two meets. The first was the prestigious "Quantas Skins," a unique meet in which match races are swum for cash prizes. Also, I swam in the World Cup in Melbourne, making the finals in the 100 breast. And, since swimming is the national Sport in Australia, it was televised. It was a real thrill to come home from the meet and watch my race on national television in the hotel. Seeing my name with the American Flag superimposed in my lane was a highlight of my career."
Barone happy with his career, is intent on moving to the "real world." Now a fan of Loyola swimming, he'll be back to watch the Greyhounds from the sidelines - and maybe offer a few words of encouragement.