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Charlie Ditmars, a member of the Calvert High School (Md.) swimming team for the past four years, was named the U.S. Army Impact Player of the Month.
Ditmars was nominated for the award by Calvert swimming coach Brian Dryer.
"It's incredible for me to see him finally get recognized for all the little things that he's done for years that are just part of who he is," Dryer said. "He doesn't do it for the recognition, but for somebody to go out of their way to say, 'Hey, we see this in you,' especially coming from the [U.S. Army] with him enlisting in that, is a really big deal because this is what he wants to do with the rest of his life."
Ditmars enlisted in the Army July 6, 2018 and works out at an Army recruiting center every Thursday. He'll leave for boot camp in Fort Benning, Ga., June 15. He'll remain there for nearly four months. He's scheduled to train to be a cavalry scout.
Ditmars originally enlisted because he was interested in a career in law enforcement down the line, but he's unsure what his long-term plan is now. He's interested in attending the U.S. Army Airborne School and U.S. Army Ranger School, both of which are located in Fort Benning.
"I always wanted to be a police officer. That was the whole reason I even decided to enlist or at least look at the military," Ditmars said. "I always liked it, but I figured I have a three-year gap from when I graduate to when I can actually go serve in law enforcement, so that's when I looked at [the U.S. Army]. Now, I don't know if I want to go with that, or if I like the military I might just go 20 years, 10 years, however long and see what comes up."
Dryer isn't surprised Ditmars chose this path given the leadership he's shown on the swimming team. Ditmars pushed to have a team meal at swim meets, was among the first swimmers in the pool at practice and swim alongside teammates who are finishing their workouts during practice so they don't have to finish training alone.
"Charlie is a natural leader. People want to follow him just because of who he is and he holds himself to that standard," Dryer said. "… We have four major traits that we push for in our students, which is the courage to be responsible, always show respect, value integrity and strive for excellence. They might as well just put his picture on that poster. That's just him. It's not a fake show. That's literally and figuratively who you get with Charlie."
Ditmars credited the swimming program for helping him develop teamwork and leadership skills.
"Anyone who was kind of struggling, I would kind of empathize with them because I kind of came from the same spot. Some people are just naturally good at swimming. I really wasn't," Ditmars said. "I kind of had to work a little bit harder than other people. Nonetheless, I liked helping people out. I liked staying after and making sure everything was cleaned up. With the team lunches, we would serve everyone, help set it up, help take it down."
Ditmars began swimming in high school without much of a background in the sport. His mother, Tina, pushed for him to join the team as a freshman given that his brother, Bradley, was a senior on the team. Ditmars gave it a shot, and he liked it so much that he gave up playing football and baseball to focus on swimming.
Dryer encouraged Ditmars to swim butterfly events because Calvert was low on swimmers in those events, and Ditmars took well to it. He was an alternate for the Cavaliers during their postseason runs throughout his four years, an experience he cherishes.
I had a lot of opportunities to make it to states and experience that level of competition that, if I wasn't on [such a good] program, I probably wouldn't have been able to experience that," Ditmars said.