Malec Fahmy ‘20 and Adam Pfeiffer ‘20
Greatness requires lots of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Seniors Kaitlin Gravell, Erica Hjelle, and Sophia Ryan embody precisely what it takes to be great. Their sacrifices have led the girls swim team to State and Metro titles in 2016 and 2018, and resulted in Division I scholarships (Gravell-Villanova, Hjelle-Georgetown, Ryan-Virginia Tech).
At 4 a.m. most high school students enjoy the last hour or two of sleep in the morning, but these girls are like most ones. They are on their way to their first workout of the day, spending an hour and a half in the pool before heading to school.
“I have been consistently swimming 8+ times a week since my freshman year to not only prepare for college, but to become a better swimmer to increase my chances of being recruited to swim. Additionally I do dry land exercises/ weight lifting 2 times a week to help with my strength and power,” said Hjelle.
All of their training and hard work has led them to the recruitment process, where they contacted college coaches about their programs. Gravell commented on how she emailed all types of schools from big, small, ivy league, and everywhere in between in the beginning of her junior year. Eventually, after a lot of searching and looking at schools, each swimmer narrowed their list down to five or fewer schools where they would take their official visits.
Each swimmer knew when their respective schools were “the one,” and they each had similar experiences to cause this decision. “I decided on Virginia Tech because it was the one school I felt at home at, and the school that I knew would provide me the best way to succeed both in the classroom and in the pool,” said Ryan.
Entering the new high school season, the girls have a common goal: to end their high school careers as Division, Metro, Region, and State champions. The team appears to be primed to do so, being led by Ryan, Gravell, and Hjelle, along with junior Amanda Wenhold, another swimmer with collegiate potential, and who won individual Metro and State titles as a sophomore.
Each swimmer has personal goals as well. “I hope to improve my record in 200 IM, and hopefully make an All-American time again,” said Gravell.
By achieving these individual goals, they know that it will go long way to helping the team get where they want to go. “I am hoping for more best times and good finishes at Metros and States and to help my relay teams as well. We will accomplish these things as a team by making sure everyone is doing their best at practice and focusing during meets and races,” said Hjelle.