Fort Mill graduate Tyler Blackwell will be swimming at Virginia Military Institute after a five-year prep career with the Jackets’ swim program.

FORT MILL – Serving his country and being able to swim was just a couple of reasons that Fort Mill grad Tyler Blackwell chose Virginia Military Institute (VMI).

                The Lexington, Va. school, will be the home for Blackwell over the next four years and will help him be able to enter into the military afterwards as an officer. Blackwell, 18, said he felt like the school would better prepare him for the military in multiple ways and chose it over The Citadel in Charleston.

                “I didn’t want the challenge of a regular college,” he said. “It will give me a sample of how life will be in the military.”

                Another reason Blackwell choose VMI was because they had swimming and The Citadel didn’t. He will be swimming his specialty, the butterfly, on the swim team in the sprint events such as 100-meters and in relay spots.

                Blackwell started swimming at age 9 and eventually found his specialty in the butterfly.

                “It works well for me,” he said. “I picked it because most people don’t do it.”

                He has been swimming for Fort Mill for five years starting in the seventh grade. He tried football his eighth-grade year, but went back to the pool as a freshman in high school.

                “I really enjoy how hard it is,” Blackwell said of the sport. “I enjoy the bonds we make on the team.”

                Blackwell said that VMI will help to build his character as he enters the military. He plans on majoring in psychology and said he is looking forward to the strictness of the school.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep