Catching up with… Doug Barron

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Doug Barron has around 10,000 jumps, has been jumping for 18 years and been around the sport all his life, as a second-generation skydiver. He became US National 4-way Champion in 2019 with SDC Rhythm XP, after three years of silver medals at Nationals.

Doug has a World Cup bronze and a silver, and this year a silver World Championships medal.

Doug Barron, by Andres Mesa

He loves big-ways and is a multiple world record holder, with the 2-point 219-way, 3-point 217-way and total break 2-point 130-way to his name. Doug is a natural coach, who loves to pass on his knowledge and has his own unique way of explaining and encouraging.

What do you do for a living?  Are you Living the Dream as a full-time skydiver?

Full time skydiver. The joke is I’m living someone’s dream! 😂 In all seriousness I am incredibly fortunate to do what I do and am beyond grateful for this life. 

Does it feel like you’re Living the Dream?

For sure! I get to work for myself, interact and meet all kinds of people, push myself and others to be better. What else could I ask for?

SDC Rhythm XP

You were Living a Nightmare when you injured your back in an AAD fire on landing, briefly tell us about what happened

I had a new unit installed in my rig and it was still in expert mode when I jumped it. At that point my gear check did not include verifying that the unit was in speed mode (it does now). I activated the unit during a landing, I was jumping a VK75 hybrid and my turn was a left 450, had two-canopies out and essentially fell straight down on to the tarmac in Sebastian. I exploded my right tibia, broke my right fibula, broke my left calcaneus in half and broke L3.

How long did it take to return to jumping? 

It was one year and six days for me to make a jump again – not that I was counting!!

How did you cope with that?

Knowing that I was going to come back and jump again was a big motivator to keep pushing forward in rehab. 

Landing after a big-way jump during the May P3 events
Photo by Dennis Sattler

Was it painful when you started skydiving again? 

Yes, it was and still is. Some days are worse than others. I remember our first jump camp back I made 5 jumps the first day and I woke up the next morning and could barely walk. I told the team I could just crawl to the plane or hobble, once I got in freefall it was fine and I would just slide my landings in.

How and why did you push through it? 

How? I pushed myself until I would fail… and then rest and then do it again. I am lucky to have a team that accepted me back and dealt with my progression coming back. I owe almost everything to them. I wouldn’t be where I am without their support. 

Why? I love what I do and I am fortunate to be able to do it. 

Do you have a motto, or favorite quotation?

I’m not sure if I have one. The things I live by are to always work to be the best and be open criticism, never stop learning and look inward if there is a problem. What I could have done differently to change the situation for the better.

On the podium after winning the 2019 US Nationals
Photo by Ron Shipp

How much did it mean to stand on top of the podium at Nationals 2019 and qualify to be the US National team?

Steve and JaNette started SDC Rhythm in 2008, and winning US Nationals was always a goal, so this moment was the culmination of 11 years of dedication and teamwork.

Andrew and I started competing together in 2008 as well, our first team was in college that won the Collegiate nationals in 2009 the same year we also won Intermediate at USPA nationals. 

We have all shared the dream to become the US team and it was an amazing experience to share with this special group of people. It is hard to put into words what that experience was like.

How was the road to Tanay Mondial, training in this difficult time?

We battled many things during training for the Mondial. We had two teammate changes, the pandemic shutdown, Steve and JaNette had a baby on the way and then JaNette’s health issues during pregnancy. I am proud of my team for pushing forward and not letting anything stop us. We constantly faced challenges up until we left the US but we pushed through and went to represent the United States the best we could. 

Doug Barron and Christy Frikken, focussed at Tanay Mondial
Photo by Matt Davidson

Your team won the silver medal at the World Championships in Russia with a 28.2 average. How did you feel with the result? 

It is an honor to compete at the highest level in this sport and represent the United States. It has always been my dream to do so and I look forward to doing it again in the future. 

The average is great but it’s only over 6 rounds so in my mind it’s not a real average. We had some great rounds during the World Championships and are very proud of our performance.

What were the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenges of the comp were the weather and aircraft. We all know how difficult it can be to sit on a jump for long periods of time. 

Keeping spirits up at Tanay Mondial
Photo courtesy of Skydive Tanay

The team decided to split after the US Nationals 2021. Did you expect this? What were the reasons?

I understand everyone’s reasons for not continuing and respect them. Steve and JaNette have baby Sage now and will focus on continuing with JaNette’s rehab. Andrew was ready to move his life and career into a different direction. I have no plans to stop competing at the highest level so, at first I didn’t understand why anyone would want to stop but I came around to seeing why they needed to. 😂

You are the only one left and determined to rebuild the team with a new lineup. What’s your plan?

I have had our first tryout and I have a shortlist of people. The new line-up announcement should come out before the end of 2021. I want to make sure I select the right people so it is not something I am rushing to make a decision on.

What are/will be the goals of the reborn team?

We will continue to have the same goals that Rhythm has always had:

  • Win a World Meet
  • Give back to the sport
  • Compete as much as possible
  • Grow the sport
  • Be good ambassadors
After landing during Tanay Mondial 2020 (held in 2021)
Photo courtesy of SDC Rhythm XP

SDC Rhythm XP has been incredibly generous over time with their resources. Do you intend to keep this trend going?  For example, writing articles for Skydive Mag! 😉

Of course! This is one of the core values that I hold very highly and will do my best to keep that going with the new lineup. Once things settle out with the best team it will be easier to delegate tasks and write more articles for such amazing publications like Skydive Mag 😉

How are you going to keep the spirit of SDC Rhythm without Steve and JaNette, the founding and continuous members of the team? 

I think that will be easy with the right people, those who share the same core values will easily be able to carry on what Steve and JaNette started. 

Doug in coaching mode
Photo by Chris Goller

Tell us about being on a team with Steve and JaNette, they seem like two of the loveliest, strongest people in the sport. 

I think you said it all right there. They have taught me so much and they truly are amazing people. It will be sad not being on a team with them but I know we will be in contact – probably more than they think! 😂

I will take what they have taught me and pass it on. It was great to be on a team with them because they really pushed me to be better and better. Seeing Steve working out every morning, and JaNette’s analytics and views on high-level training were inspiring.

What other projects are around the corner for you? 

I will continue to train with my 8-way team Rhythm9/Prison 9. I have started All American Big Ways and will continue to grow that. I love big-ways and want to make them more accessible and bring back the big-way love! Continue to coach and grow the sport as much as I can. Thrilled to be coaching at the Spread The Wings event, in Egypt. 

One of Doug’s favorite big-ways – the 128-way Jewel over Perris in 2019
Photo by Gary Wainwright

Why are you so thrilled about coaching at Spread Your Wings?

I am incredibly excited for this opportunity! The list of organizers is mind-blowing, the views will be something we can only dream of  – and who doesn’t want to jump a Herc?!

Thanks so much for talking to us Doug and good luck with the new SDC Rhythm XP line-up.

Doug Barron is proudly sponsored by Sun Path Products, Performance Designs, Cypres, Cookie Composites, Paraclete XP, Skydive Chicago, Skydive Sebastian, Larsen and Brusgaard and Tony Suits.

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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