GAMBER -- A taller, tanned and seemingly more mature D. Gregory Putman is finishing another full summer before preparing to enter his fifth-grade year at Mechanicsville Elementary school next month.
Sporting a bronze medal he won swimming in the Central Maryland Division III meet earlier this summer, the 10-year-old Gamber resident is quick to talk about the highlight of his vacation from school.
Greg, who swims for the Freedom Swim Club said, "When I got this medal, I was real happy. I won this medal for the 50-meter freestyle relay. There were four of us and we all got a medal. It's the first medal I ever won."
Greg's mother Pam Putman is beaming as she listens to Greg and says that this was truly one of the most memorable moments in his young sports career.
"It was sort of like the Olympics," Mrs. Putman said. "Greg was so happy that night. I remember he was going to a bowling party and he wanted to wear this medal. He had this thing hanging from his neck and we asked him how he would bowl with that medal dangling down."
Greg said, "Swimming is fun and my coach, Ricky Bange is really cool. Make sure you put that in the article."
As if a summer in the water weren't enough, Greg also found time to participate in the Baltimore Blast soccer camp at Deer Park.
Greg, who will play soccer in the Deer Park Recreation League this fall, was thrilled to learn new skills.
"We worked on shooting and we had scrimmages mostly everyday," he said. "We played different soccer games, like soccer baseball and soccer tennis.
"What I liked most about the camp were the Blast players. My favorite players, like Ian Frazier, Rusty Troy and Billy Ronson, were there to teach us," he said.
L There was one period when Greg's summer took a serious turn.
In late May, Greg's grandfather, Emory B. Shipley of Frederick, underwent bypass surgery. After going home in early June to begin his recovery, Mr. Shipley was unable to do most household chores.
Greg, concerned about his grandfather's well-being, gave the greatest gift of all -- himself.
"Once my grandfather got home from the hospital, I went up there and stayed with him for five days," Greg said. "I would cut the grass, plant flowers, put the hose up and do other things like that. The thing I liked about it most was that he gave me money and he took me to see two movies in five days."
The Putmans feel that the special time Greg spent with hisgrandfather helped to speed his recovery and brighten his outlook.
"I think he helped his grandfather get back into the mainstream," said Rick Putman, Greg's father. "His grandfather was a very active man, and after the surgery he was unable to do the things he would normally do. He had a lot of pain from the cuts made on his chest."
One of Greg's regular companions is his 12-year-old brother Grant.
Greg and Grant, who will be a seventh grader at West Middle, share many of the same interests, especially when it comes to sports. Both boys enjoy swimming and playing Lacrosse, basketball and soccer.
Even their hobbies are similar. One of their favorite pastimes is collecting sports cards.
Greg, who started collecting the cards two years ago, is avid in seeking out his heroes.
"Nolan Ryan is my favorite, and Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox. I have 702 Nolan Ryan cards," Greg said. "I probably have around 2,000 cards altogether. My brother has a lot of cards too."
With the school year rapidly approaching, Greg seems more ready for this school year to begin than last.
"Ms. Dain will be my teacher this year," Greg says with a smile. "She is really nice. I hope I have her for math, but if I don't, well, that's OK."
If there is one distinct change in D. Gregory Putman from one year ago, it would have to be what he considers his favorite subjects in school.
Listing lunchtime and recess as tops last year, Greg now states without hesitation that math and science are number one.