Parker Touchton didn’t have to look far for swimming role models when he took up the sport as an eighth-grader.
“Lemar Linton and Josh Johnson graduated my freshman year,” Touchton said of the Ashland Blazer and Ashland Area YMCA swim team standouts.
Linton received a scholarship from Louisville, while Johnson chose Western Illinois.
Touchton, now a senior, is seeing the fruits of his own dedication in the pool. He signed a Letter of Intent earlier this week at the Ashland Y to continue his swimming career at Asbury University near Lexington.
“Seeing what those guys did with swimming, it inspired me to swim in college and follow it farther,” Touchton said.
He heard about Asbury, a Christian liberal arts institution, through his home church — First Baptist of Ashland.
“I went for a visit in November and kind of fell in love with the place,” he said. “Keeping God focused in all of it, that’s one of the things I like. They actually had a swim meet while I was there. I got to spend the night in a dorm.”
Touchton carries a high grade point average and is already taking some college classes.
A two-year captain for the Tomcat swim team, Touchton is pointing toward high school regionals early next month in northern Kentucky.
One of his career highlights was qualifying for the State Swimming and Diving Championships in the 500-yard freestyle as a sophomore. Last year, he missed it by less than a second in two events.
“That kind of pushed me this year to train harder,” Touchton said.
He stopped swimming the 500 this season, focusing on the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles. Coach Billy Cox called Touchton a team leader and said there is no questioning his enthusiasm.
“Parker is one of the most enthusiastic and fired-up individuals that I’ve ever met,” Cox said.
Touchton only began swimming as an eighth-grader and joined the Ashland Area YMCA Barracudas team as a freshman.
“He kind of started late,” Cox said. “Parker encourages the younger swimmers, and just does a lot of things right.”
Last March, Touchton was high-point runner-up in the Boys 15-18 age group at the Kentucky YMCA state championships for the Ryan Ferguson-coached Barracudas. He won the 200 and 500 freestyle races, while also placing second in the 100 butterfly and 400 individual medley.
Touchton’s final year of high school competition is progressing well, according to his coach.
“Parker is having a real good season,” Cox said. “He’s been excited about swimming in college for quite a while. His times have dropped pretty consistently over the last four years.”
Along with individual events, Touchton continues to be a leader on the Tomcats’ 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
“Hopefully, I will make it to state in four events,” he said.
Another major objective for Touchton is qualifying for Y Nationals this spring. Down the road, he hopes to make the 2016 Olympic Trials.
“I practice in the morning, then practice in the afternoon,” he said. “I love doing that.”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.