The Wolfpacker

January 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 32 of 51

BY MATT CARTER veryone has their earliest child- hood memories. One of David Fox's is from when he was 3 or 4 years old. His father had graduated from NC State's School of Natural Resources, and the Fox family had season tickets for football and basket- ball, rarely missing a home game in either sport. "It was in my blood," Fox remembered. After one basketball game, they were walking outside of Reynolds Coliseum near where the training room was located, and the legend David Thompson walked out by himself. Fox approached Thompson, and in his innocent childhood voice said, "My name is David, too." Thompson shook Fox's hand and said hi back. "That was special to me," Fox noted. "He's the only guy who I have an auto- graphed picture of in my house, still to this day." However, there are plenty of other pieces of sports memorabilia that are worthy of being displayed around his home, including items and photos commemorating a swim- ming career that would include an indi- vidual national title at NC State and then an Olympic gold medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996. A Late-Bloomer In Swimming Fox was not an instant success or prodigy in swimming. For many years growing up, it was a sport he did alongside basketball. Being part of a swim team was a social ex- perience for Fox rather than a competitive pathway to intercollegiate athletics. "I was just a kid on the team," he said. "I liked to goof off probably more than I should have. "I liked to race; I always liked to race. I didn't really spend any time thinking about how to be good and improve myself." Then came a convergence of events that saw Fox blossom in the pool. At 14 years old, he gave up basketball and decided to commit to swimming, just as he was in the midst of his physical growth. When Fox was an eighth grader, he was 5-5. About a year later, he stood close to 6 feet tall. The growth spurt would continue through college until he topped out at 6-4. "I learned that relationship between hard work and success and improvement, but also I started getting a lot bigger at the same time," Fox recalled. "The joy you get from seeing your times drop was compounded for me because of the hard work and the growth at the same time." Fox was training with a small group of swimmers who were mostly older, creating a competitive atmosphere in practice. He became obsessed with seeing his results im- prove while also keeping up with his practice mates. He would do morning practices before school Monday through Thursday, two days focused on weights and dryland training, and two concentrated on swimming. Those workouts ran from 5:15 a.m. to 7, which meant that Fox was up at 4:30 to head to the downtown YMCA on Hillsborough Street for training before rushing to Sanderson High School for classes. Once school was done, Fox was back to training for another two hours or more. WOLFPACKER FOR LIFE David Fox Went From A Fan Of NC State To One Of Its Greatest Swimmers Ever E DAVID FOX Fox set a collegiate record when he finished the 50-yard freestyle race in 19.14 seconds at the 1993 NCAA Championships. PHOTO COURTESY DAVID FOX W H E R E AR E T H E Y N O W ? JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022 ■ 33

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