Varsity swimmers dedicate numerous hours to their sport


Credit: Perla Santiago

Sophomore Hailey Yoder racing in a freestyle event during a meet this season.

Claire Goodwin-Kelly, Sports Editor

Loy Norrix junior Ellie Lepley wakes up at five in the morning most days, scrambling to eat, get organized and stay awake all at the same time. When she leaves to pick up sophomore Annika Schnell, the street lights are still on, illuminating the dark, quiet roads. 

This is a typical morning for the girls on the varsity swim team. These morning practices are mandatory for most of the girls on the swim team. Both Lepley and Schnell have been attending the morning practices since freshman year, even though morning practices are optional to new girls on the swim team. Often, freshmen will still go, thinking it is a crucial part of preparation for meets and contributes to the Knights’ success.

The six o’clock practice lasts an hour and usually includes leg workouts such as kicking and speed drills to help improve each swimmers’ endurance.

Jumping into a cold pool at six in the morning may not seem ideal for most, but for Schnell it’s a good start to the day.

“It gets me more awake in the morning, so when I go to first hour, I don’t feel as tired even though I was up earlier than I usually am,” Schnell said.

However, there are some issues with being up so early, “Remembering to bring everything is stressful. Like this morning I forgot a towel. What am I supposed to do without a towel?” said sophomore Lauren Kelley. 

When asked if there is ever a struggle being awake and exercising that early, junior Ellie Hasse said, “My brain isn’t up, so I can’t think. I kind of just go to practice and go through the motions.” 

A lot of other swimmers feel this way too. The team is accustomed to Head Coach Paul Mahar’s demanding schedule, since many girls also participate in Kalamazoo United, a local swim team Mahar also coaches.. But sophomore Theresa Ray believes the long hours spent together isn’t always good for the swim team. 

“Sometimes it feels like we spend TOO much time together,” Ray said. 

Other swimmers believe that the many hours spent practicing has helped lead them to a winning season and faster times. Schnell made state cut in the 50 free, and Norrix has only lost two meets in the 2019 season, often blowing out opponents by over 40 points.