In the fast lane

March 6, 2017

Four swimmers exceed expectations this season in the medley and freestyle relays, speeding into first place  and emerging victorious

Senior develops love for swimming

Her nerves begin to kick in as senior Olivia Barnhart stands on the block and anticipates her turn in the relay. Thousands of thoughts course through her mind as the fear of disappointing her team echos in her head: do we have a lead? What if my goggles fall off? What if I misjudge my breakout?

Before she knows it, Barnhart dives straight into her streamline and the water washes over her. She knows that she needs to make sure she creates a large enough lead in order to be satisfied with herself. “You need to keep your head back,” she tells herself as she pushes harder to pass her opponent in the next lane.

Since freshman year, Barnhart has been a key component in the women’s swimming relay team by participating in the backstroke or fly event. “Anything that’s swimming-related grabs my attention, so I figured I would just [join the team],” she said.

Although she is now a swimming enthusiast, Barnhart hated swimming when she first joined the Bel Air Athletic Club’s summer swim team in fourth grade. “My mom would have to force me to actually go swim my events because I hated it so much. I would hide under the chairs they put on the pool deck or I would pretend that I was sleeping,” she said.

When Barnhart was in sixth grade, she finally reached a turning point and started to develop her love of swimming. “I was recruited by the year-round coach [at BAAC] to start swimming year-round. I would go every day and I loved it. I loved the people I swam with,” she said.

There are some days that I would really like to stay home, but I push myself and make myself go to the gym or to the pool, and I feel a lot better afterwards.”

— Olivia Barnhart

Barnhart began working on improving her techniques with her coach and finding a rhythm for her specialities, the backstroke and butterfly, which according to Barnhart is the hardest stroke to learn due to its focus on the core. “My mom would [tell] me that if you do so many hours of [the stroke], you’ll get it perfect, so I just kept doing it over and over again. I would do it in the pools on Saturdays when I didn’t have practice or any free time really,” she said. Although Barnhart has not perfected the stroke yet, she’s been acknowledged as the “most improved” of her age group for two consecutive years by her summer swim team.

According to Barnhart, staying fit motivates her to work hard during practices. “There are some days that I would really like to stay home, but I push myself and make myself go to the gym or to the pool, and I feel a lot better afterwards,” she said.

When Barnhart is not in the pool practicing, she spends every other day in the gym working out with her sister. Her normal workout routine typically lasts for at least an hour and a half and consists of running six or more miles on a treadmill, using stationary machines, and focusing on core exercises.

In addition to swimming, Barnhart utilizes her love for the sport by giving back to her swim community through junior coaching. During the summer, Barnhart helps with practice for the younger children after her morning practice and helps them figure out their strokes.

According to Barnhart, this experience means more to her than just swimming. “[I help coach] so that they’ll have a good experience out of it and hopefully they’ll go somewhere with swimming. One day, I could be watching my little kids at the Olympics,” she said.

Caroline Cooney is the Editor in Chief of The Patriot and

Junior swimmer carries the team

Adjusting her goggles, junior  Amelia Wickham prepares for the 200 meter individual medley. She steps up on the block, takes her mark, and dives in. Wickham pulls ahead in the butterfly and maintains her lead throughout the backstroke and breaststroke. She pushes through the final 50 meters of freestyle and finishes first in her first meet as a Patriot.

As a homeschool transfer, Wickham may be new to JC, but she isn’t new to the pool. She had tried other sports in the past, but she soon found her niche in the swimming world.“I used to play soccer, but that didn’t work out too well,” Wickham said.

For JC, she swims in many events, including the 200 meter individual medley, 100 meter breastroke, the 200 meter medley relay, and the 200 meter freestyle relay. “She’s a very versatile swimmer willing to swim whatever [event] we ask her to,” swimming head coach Larry Dukes said.

Lately, however, Wickham has not been able to swim as many events as she is used to due to injury. “I’m having back and shoulder problems and they have been hurting really badly lately,” Wickham said.

So far, Wickham’s favorite part of the season has been the interaction with her teammates. “Everyone was very welcoming [to me]. They were all cheering for me at my first race,” Wickham said.

Her teammates have noticed her work and swimming talent. “I’ve been swimming with her for a couple years,” junior swimmer Mallory Smith said. “She’s talented, very talented. Swimming comes naturally to her. You can tell that as soon as she gets into the water,” Smith said.

This is the first high school team that Wickham has ever been on, and she has enjoyed it immensely. She hopes the rest of the season goes just as well as it started. “I’m having a ton of fun and am building good relationships,” Wickham said.

Daniel Robinson is a General Staff Member at The Patriot and

Sophomore pushes new boundaries

At the mere age of five, sophomore Kaelyn James found her passion: swimming.

According to James, the only reason she began swimming was because her mother insisted she play a sport. However, after years of perfecting her craft, she realized the passion she had for it. This passion has continued into high school, when she began swimming for the varsity swim team. While James practices during the school year for the JC team, she also swims during the summer for the Aberdeen Penguins in order to keep up with training for the JC season.

Now, at JC, she is paired with seniors Julianna Richard, Olivia Barnhart, and junior Amelia Wickham in the 200m medley and 200m freestyle relay. This year, they swam their way to a (record) record.

James didn’t expect to become a part of a successful relay team during her sophomore year and was “thrown into it by Coach Dukes.” Nevertheless, the team has enjoyed an undefeated in-conference record for this season.

We are mainly successful because we’re each strong in the type of stroke that we do and the fact that we want to win.”

— Kaelyn James

According to Richard, the team’s success can be attributed to the team’s already existing connections. Although they were all new teammates, some girls on the relay team previously had experience swimming with each other. “We all know each other really well. I’ve swam with all of them before. I even swam year-round and during the summer with Kaelyn,” Richard said.

In addition to each teammate having prior connections with each other, James also believes that the team’s success can be attributed to each teammate’s motivation to win and each person’s proficiency in their type of swimming stroke. “We are mainly successful because we’re each strong in the type of stroke that we do and the fact that we want to win,” James said.

While winning is their main goal, the road to championships is not an easy one. Each member of the team is motivated by their hope to help their fellow team members. “The most difficult part of being on the relay team is having the possibility of letting other members of your team down. If you don’t give it your all and go fast enough, you could be the reason for losing the relay,” James said.

Grant Sharretts is the Online Chief for The Patriot and

Senior finds swimming passion at a young age

Senior Julianna Richard stands on the block, jittery with anticipation. She watches her teammate glide through the water, knowing that the final leg is all up to her. As the third member of her relay team touches the wall, she leaps off the block, diving into the water.

When she was younger, Richard signed up for many sports, such as golf, tennis, and soccer, but by the age of seven, swimming was the only one that stood out to her. “When I was younger, I did a bunch of sports to see what I liked and out of those it ended up whittling down to just swimming,” Richard said.

While Richard participated in year-round swimming all the way up until high school, she quit freshman year because of the time commitment. “I didn’t like the year-round aspect. The high school side I liked, but when it was year-round it became way too much,” Richard said.

We are all very connected. It makes our relay team a little bit stronger because we know we have to do well for the rest of the team.”

— Julianna Richard

Richard also participates in year-round volleyball, but still finds time to swim three to four times a week to prepare herself for JC swim meets. Because of her volleyball commitment, Richard can only practice with the team one day a week, but since she puts in individual practice time, she continues to compete at a high level.

Despite limited practice time, Richard thrived her freshman year on the JC swim team and was named an all-county swimmer. “I got first in our relay freshman year, second in two of my individual events and then third in our other relay, so I thought it was a pretty cool way to start off my swimming career at John Carroll,” Richard said.

According to Richard, her relay team performs well because of their close relationships and understanding of each other’s roles on the team. “We are all very connected. It makes our relay team a little bit stronger because we know we have to do well for the rest of the team,” Richard said. “It’s not just a one person event, everyone has to work hard in order to stay with the people in the lane next to them and pull ahead.”

Grant Sharretts is the Online Chief for The Patriot and

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