As a sophomore in 2013, Bryant’s Lindsey Butler set a new State record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 58.23. As a senior this spring, she improved that mark at the State meet, finishing in 58.00 only to be denied the State mark when Carly Holland of Rogers Heritage out-touched her at the end with a 59.92.
It remains one of three Bryant High School records for Butler who, on Wednesday, signed a letter of intent to continue her education and swim at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia next fall.
Butler, the daughter of Keith and Jeana Butler, was accepted into the Honors College at HSU as she was awarded the Distinguished Freshman Scholarship.
“They’re getting a top-notch athlete,” stated Bryant coach Angel Dale. “Lindsey’s a hard worker. She gives you everything that she’s got in every race. She’s a good person. I think that (HSU) Coach (Coak) Matthews is going to be extremely pleased with Lindsey.”
Butler is a four-time all-State and all-conference performer in the backstroke as well as a member of Bryant’s all-State 200-medley relay team in 2015. She was named the Wendy’s High School Player of the Year in swimming in 2013 and was a finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award in the state in 2014.
Onat Tungac, Aquatics Director for the City of Bryant at Bishop Park, head coach for the Central Arkansas Swim Club, works with the Bryant High School and Benton High School teams, the Bryant Barracudas youth team and is manager of an area AAU swim team. He’s coached Butler since she joined the Barracudas when she was 11 years old.
“I think Lindsey’s character and personality have developed over the years,” he said. “She’s such a hard worker. She’s so honest and she’s so pure. I think all the good values and her parents and family coming together created a wonderful young lady. She’s successful in the classroom and all that she does. I know she’s involved with other activities with church and other groups. She’s become such a highly active and wonderful young lady. I can see her being most successful in swimming, her career in college and the future.”
Butler broke 13 CASL Meet of Champs records from 2011-13 and she was High Point performer each of those three years. She qualified and swam at the NCSA Swimming Championships in 2014 and 2015 and was part of a relay team that holds the LSC record in the 200 medley and 400 medley relays. She’s recorded 12 first-place finishes at ASI age group State championships since 2012.
“I started doing summer league when I was 9,” Butler related. “I started competing year-round when I was 12. I was doing that between classic soccer. I decided I enjoyed swim more and I ended up quitting soccer so I could commit to swim. I’ve been doing year-round since then. I probably got real serious about it when I was 15 or so.
“I think I met Lindsey when she was 11 years old when she started with the Bryant Barracudas swim team, swimming in the summertime,” Tungac said. “I’ve been coaching her since then with the year-round swim team; Lindsey, her older sister Amanda and her younger sister Jessica.”
Butler said she chose between two schools on either side of the street in Arkadelphia, selecting Henderson over Ouachita Baptist University.
“I got scholarships that paid for more at Henderson,” she acknowledged. “It’s one of the only in-state colleges that has Division II swim teams. I knew I wanted to swim so I ended up on the recruiting trip there and applying there. I got along with the team really well. I really enjoyed it.
“They have a good program,” she related. “My coach (Tungac) went to Henderson so he trains a lot like the Henderson coach will. So I think I go into the program kind of knowing how it’s going to go and doing well with the practices.”
“And I loved the Biology Department too,” she added. “Hopefully I can go to Physician’s Assistant school at UAMS after Henderson.
Butler owns the school record in the 50-yard freestyle (24.69) and 100 free (57.31). But the backstroke is her favorite.
“It’s always been my best, even when I first started at 9 years old,” she said. “That was the first event I ever swam, like in a Barracuda meet. It was the one that came best to me naturally.”
“She just had a natural skill in the backstroke,” Tungac agreed. “We worked on it and, throughout the years, her backstroke became very strong. She’s become one of the fastest backstrokers in the state.”