Danny O'Dea was not only the best swimmer on the Western Albemarle boys team - as captain, he was also the unquestioned leader.
"He's cognizant of the fact that with being the best swimmer, comes additional responsibilites," Western coach Dan Bledsoe said. "Kids are going to look to you."
"I always try to be there for my teammates," O'Dea explained. "Whenever they need me, whenever they need advice on a stroke, I do what I can to help them out. It's probably the most important thing I think I've done as a high school student."
O'Dea was a no-brainer choice to be named captain for the Warriors this season, an honor he took seriously.
"It might be the single most important thing for my in my high school career," O'Dea said of being captain. "It has taught me so much about leadership, responsibility, accountability."
A four-time all-state selection, O'Dea was the only year-round swimmer for the Warriors this season. That meant Bledsoe knew who to go to when the team needed to win an event.
"This is the first year where I've had it where we only had one year-round swimmer. And with Danny, there's pretty much any event we could put him in and he would shine."
While he may have been the best in the pool, O'Dea was quick to put team success ahead of individual goals.
"High school swimming is special. It's not about the individual, it's about the team as whole," he explained. "You want everyone to succeed because no matter how good one person is, it's a team sport. And you can't win a championship by yourself."
A leader in the water, O'Dea would also like to be a leader of the people. He's involved with several leadership and public service groups at Western and plans to study political science in college.
"I feel an obligation to help as many people as I can," O'Dea said. "I grew up in a gifted area. We have an incredible amount of resources and I'd consider it irresponsible of me not to use my abilities to help as many people as I can."
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