NEW WILMINGTON — Adding to the family name — and the Westminster College swimming legacy — have been goals of Dan Gutmann for the past four years.
Gutmann, a Seneca Valley graduate, recently concluded his swim career at Westminster by helping the Titans win their first Presidents’ Athletic Conference championship since 2007. He served as a co-captain on this year’s team.
“Dan is one of the hardest-working kids we’ve ever had here,” said 28-year Westminster swim coach Rob Klamut. “Not only in the pool, but in our dry land workouts, weight lifting, running ... Dan was always leading the way.
“Since his first practice with us, Dan always placed himself in the lane next to the fastest swimmer and just willed himself to keep up. If he didn’t, he’d come back the next day and try again.”
Such effort paid off.
Gutmann became a four-time first team All-PAC swimmer during his collegiate career, excelling in the freestyle and breaststroke. He won PAC titles in the 200-yard freestyle, 100 breaststroke and 400 medley relay during his career.
But the team championship this season means the most to him. The Titans had finished second to Grove City in each of the previous five years.
“Each year, we make a list of goals we want to achieve here,” Gutmann said. “For the past three years, I’ve written down winning the PAC team championship.
“To finally be able to make that happen means everything to myself and the other seniors. Now we feel like we’re leaving behind a legacy.”
It was a family legacy that brought Gutmann to Westminster in the first place.
His older brother, Ben, a senior at Seneca Valley when he was a freshman, swam for the Titans as well and holds school records of two minutes, 2.31 seconds in the 200 breast and 56.86 seconds in the 100 breast.
“When I was in high school, Ben used to come home on weekends and tell us how he and the guys did this, he and the team were doing that. ... Seeing how much he loved that place and that team, it was hard for me to even consider going anywhere else,” Gutmann said.
Gutmann joined his older brother among the Titans’ top 10 in the breaststroke, ranking third with a 57.63 in the 100, seventh with a 2:10.68 in the 200.
He became part of a Westminster record himself when he joined teammates Steven Brooks, Matt Baurle and Alan Nedley in swimming the 200 medley relay in 1:33:08, snapping the record set in 2009.
“My brother has influenced my life in so many ways,” Gutmann said. “Being able to look on that record page and see two Gutmann names listed is pretty satisfying.”
Gutmann is majoring in public relations and marketing and will graduate in May. He plans to stay involved in swimming as a coach, but isn’t sure when.
“I have to go into the working world first and get a big-boy job,” he said. “Then I can consider it. If it’s up to me, I’ll be coaching somewhere a few weeks after I’m finished with school.”
Actually, he’s already been coaching.
He served as an assistant coach for the Seneca Valley Swim Club last summer, working with kids 10-under through college age.
Gutmann offered his own services to teammates at the Westminster recreational hall pool each Sunday during the season.
“NCAA rules state that a swim team has to have at least one full day off a week where the coaches can’t require them to do anything,” Klamut said. “For us, that day was Sunday. The coaches did nothing with the swimmers that day.
“Dan took it upon himself to run a stroke clinic at the pool each Sunday and helped some of his teammates with their fundamentals. He was a true leader.”
One of the swimmers he worked with was freshman Baurle, who won the breaststroke title at the PAC Championships and is on his way to nationals.
“I just wanted to make myself available if guys wanted to work on their turns, technique or anything,” Gutmann said. “I told them I’d be at the pool.
“Nothing was mandatory, but about half the team showed up and we got a lot of extra work in. I think it helped us in the long run.”
Gutmann never reached nationals himself and said he would never take credit for a teammate getting there.
But he’s proud Baurle earned the trip.
“Matt’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met,” Gutmann said. “We pushed each other and challenged each other all year.
“My brother Ben reached the top eight at nationals, something I wanted to do and never did. It just makes me respect him that much more.”
Gutmann earned plenty respect of his own along the way.
“He had more than a great career here,” Klamut said. “He had a tremendous career and its impact will be felt for a long time.”