Dan Waite was 12 when he knew he wanted to get serious about swimming.
"I went to a Junior Olympics meet with kids from all over the state, and I came in second in the 50 [meter] free [style]," Waite said. "That's when I really started getting into it."
Waite — known to his teammates, friends and coaches as "D.J." — has been a member of the Bloomingdale High swim team each of his three years at the school.
"He's a natural talent, a hard worker and extremely driven," said Eva Applebee, Bloomingdale's boys swim and dive coach. "On top of all that he's a nice kid and never walks around like he's full of himself."
The 16-year-old junior qualified for states last year in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle. Waite finished 14th in the state in the 100-meter freestyle, which he calls his favorite event.
"I like it because it obviously gives me a bit more time than the 50 and lets me use my strength and endurance to my advantage," Waite said.
This year, Waite has competed in the 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke for the Bulls, who were undefeated heading into an Oct. 6 swim meet at Walden Lake versus Spoto and Plant City high schools.
The Bulls swim squad will begin district competition Oct. 27 and Waite hopes to improve on his performance from last year. To that end, he put on 30 pounds of muscle, increasing his weight to 175.
"It was more about quantity in what I ate, and I also hit the gym pretty hard," Waite said about his diet and exercise regimen. "I'm definitely hoping to medal at states this year."