Star swimmer

Sophia Bailly, Staff Writer

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Swimming since kindergarten, senior Sydney Weatherspoon said she was “just racing for fun” on Oct. 26 when the girls’ swim team won its district competition in Orlando hosted by Lake Highland Preparatory school.

“Swimming is a lot about confidence,” Weatherspoon said. “So in my brain, I was like ‘Sydney, you’ve put in a lot of hard work. You need to try to win.’ But I wasn’t like ‘I’m going to win.’”

Participating in the 50 and 100 freestyle at districts, Weatherspoon reached a time of 25.29 in the 50 free, placing first. She holds the 100 back and 50 free records for the school and shares three of the records held for relays. Weatherspoon also received the MVP award for her freshman and junior years has made the Cape Coast Conference team three consecutive times and has been Conference Champion and District Champion in multiple events.

“In seventh grade, I was really timid and didn’t have much self-confidence,” Weatherspoon said. “But I’ve made friends on the swim team and I’ve learned how to deal with lots of stuff. It’s really helped me grow as a person and to set goals.”

Weatherspoon began swimming competitively at the age of 10. Her motivation came from her love of everything “in and around the water.” She swam for East Coast in middle school and YCF and ROCOA in high school.

“In swimming, you’ll improve a lot and you’ll plateau for a little while,” Weatherspoon said. “So whenever I start plateauing, I think ‘maybe I should play lacrosse.’ But I never end up doing that.”

The season began July 31 and ended Nov. 9 after the state championship. First-year coach Kyle Berry, who coached Astronaut High School’s swim team for seven years, said that in order to prepare for regionals and state, the team “backed off on yardage” and extended speedwork. With 10 qualifiers and five alternates attending, the swimmers left campus Nov. 8 to drive to Stuart for state competition.

“It was really windy and rainy,” Weatherspoon said. “I probably could have swum faster [if the weather wasn’t so bad]. I’ve swum at that pool a couple of times, so I knew what to expect.”

Preliminary races were held on the morning of Nov. 9, with finals taking place in the evening. Weatherspoon competed in the 50 free, 100 free, freestyle and 200 relays as the team’s anchor. Qualifying for the 50 free events as an individual, Weatherspoon finished in 24.91 placing 15th out of 24 competitors.

“[The state meet] was bittersweet,” Weatherspoon said. “Because it’s the beginning of a new chapter.”

Last school year,

Weatherspoon won “Florida Today’s” Athlete of the Week, and since then has been nominated for the title two more times. Weatherspoon said she hopes to swim in college because she doesn’t want to give the sport up.

“I’m pretty self-motivated,” Weatherspoon said. “My dad grew up on a farm, so he’s always telling me, ‘when I was younger I had to work hard, so you have to work hard too.’”

Berry said Weatherspoon has been a captain underclassmen to look up to. 

“It’s going be a big impact [when she graduates],” Berry said. “And it’s going to be a big challenge for the girls next year. But I think they are ready for that.”