Hoping for a grandchild double-up

Durango’s Burckle focused on London pool

The Dittmers won’t be the only Durangoans with a keen interest in the pool in London.

For the second consecutive Summer Olympics, one of Edwynn Burckle’s grandchildren will compete for the U.S. Swimming Team.

Burckle, who splits the year between his place at Tamarron Estates and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., watched granddaughter Caroline Burckle, a Louisville, Ky., native, earn a bronze medal as part of the U.S. 4x200 meter freestyle relay team in Beijing.

“It was very, very exciting,” he said. “It was the thrill of a lifetime for an old guy.”

This year, Burckle watched from Durango as grandson Clark Burckle finished second in the 200 breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Neb., earning him one of two Olympic spots. The result came as a bit of a surprise, as Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau were expected by many to grab the two slots, but Scott Weltz won in 2 minutes, 9.01 seconds, and Burckle clipped Shanteau by .08 seconds for second place and will try for a medal today.

“Got it still on tape here in Durango,” the proud grandfather said. “He won while I was here, and we didn’t expect him to go that far.

“It was a thrill of a lifetime seeing the second grandchild make the Olympics.”

Clarke Burckle was at a loss for words himself on that night back in June.

“I can’t even put it into words right now,” he told the Louisville Journal-Courier. “It’s the epitome of what a swimmer dreams about. ... I’m proud to be a part of what my sister did and a part of this.”

Edwynn Burckle, who began keeping a residence in Durango 25 years ago, has been part of a swimming-crazed family for a long time. Caroline and Clark’s father, Chris Burckle, was a strong swimmer in his own right, swimming collegiately at the University of Louisville. It makes for a difficult road, leaving little time for vacations to places such as Durango, but the Olympics make the hours worth it.

“Very trying, because when you’re in swimming, you don’t get the results the other athletes get,” Edwynn Burckle said. “You wake up, swim two or three hours before school, then come home and swim two or three hours after school from the time you’re 6 years old.”

When Olympic grandchild No. 2 takes to the pool for his shot at a medal, Edwynn Burckle’s heart will be in London. His eyes, however, will be glued to a TV screen here in Durango.

“All my kids are going, but I’m getting too old to handle all that stress,” he said with a chuckle.

rowens@durangoherald.com