Jun. 19—When Charlie Hall entered the 2020-21 college swimming season, he had high expectations — but he never imagined how far those goals would carry him.
The former Owensboro Catholic High School standout recently wrapped up his career at Division III Franklin College in Indiana, where he earned three consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year honors. The biggest accolade, however, came earlier this month when Hall was named a Second-Team All-American by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches of America.
“I was speechless, honestly,” Hall said. “It was a pretty big surprise for me. I was super excited for it. With this long year and all of the hard work, it was nice to see it finally pay off. It was extraordinary.”
At first, Hall joked, he didn’t believe the news.
“I was at a wedding when I got the text message and nearly dropped my phone,” he said, laughing. “I thought somebody was messing with us. I showed the text to my mom and dad, and it was great. I was ecstatic.”
Hall, who became the first male swimmer in Franklin College history to earn All-American acclaim, was named to the second team in two events — the 400-meter individual medley (4:04.46) and the 200 butterfly (1:51.00).
With the absence of the NCAA Championships this season, Division III All-Americans were determined based on the swimmer’s best performances in competition, as nominated by their coaches. For Hall, his best performances came at the conference meet at end of the year.
“It was in the back of my head, but it wasn’t something I tried to think about too much,” Hall said. “I think the biggest thing was staying positive, not getting too distracted with COVID and everything. I was staying focused on the goals I had and staying positive.”
At the HCAC Championships in March, Hall helped the Grizzlies to a runner-up finish. Along the way, he captured individual victories in the 200 butterfly, the 400 IM and the 200 IM (1:53.42), and also helped Franklin’s 400 medley relay team capture first place (3:23.07).
In high school, Hall primarily swam the butterfly, but Franklin’s coaching staff wanted more when he arrived on campus.
“I like to be well-rounded,” Hall said. “When I went to college, coaches took a different approach with me. With that, you just embrace it and make the most of it. What my coach saw, I definitely started to see, the more I trained. It was different, but you’ve got to embrace the challenge.”
Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for Hall, who missed his senior year of high school and freshman year of college after a pair of labrum repairs.
“That was one of those things where you hope to get back to where you were,” he recalled. “You try really hard to get back there and hope for the best. It was a long road back, but I had great support.”
Hall, whose older brother Sam also swam at Catholic and Franklin College, first got involved in the sport when he was 5 years old. Productive careers with the Owensboro Marlins and the Catholic High Aces followed.
“I grew up swimming for the Marlins, and it was fantastic,” he said. “And (former Catholic swimmer) Michael Hampel, he’s one of my best friends. We always motivated each other, and even through college we’ve stayed really close. He’s someone that’s been a big influence on me, especially with swimming and how much success he’s had.
“The support system I had was phenomenal. My upbringing with swimming made it so much easier to succeed, and I tried to carry that momentum into college.”
Now, with his four years of college behind him, Hall is satisfied with moving on, even though he’s eligible for another year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, he’s headed to the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of Pikeville in July.
“Looking back at my career at Franklin, I have no regrets at all,” he said. “I’m very satisfied with how everything ended. At a certain point, you’ve got to take a step back, look at it, and see if I’m OK with stepping away from the sport. After the conference championships this year, I’m satisfied. Going into it, being injured, it was more than I ever thought it could be.”