Kylee Nelson – A Grizzly To Model


Kamila Bodero

Kylee Nelson “flying” to victory

As a Copper Hills Grizzly, I take pride in my school for many reasons, but the thing I regard with most delight are the people who, too, call themselves Grizzlies. There are many students who are deserving of praise for their achievements in the classroom and various extracurriculars. One Grizzly that stands out from the rest, however, is Kylee Nelson.

Kylee, amongst many things, is a gifted swimmer. Copper Hills’ swim coach, Markie Harper, said, “[Kylee] swims two very hard events. She swims the 100 fly, which is probably the least popular swim stroke, and the 200 IM (so 50 [meters] of each stroke), and she’s great; I wish she wasn’t a senior more than anything.”

From the get-go, Kylee has been a significant contributor to Copper Hills’ varsity swim squad. Since her freshman season, Kylee has medaled every year at Region and finished as a state finalist every year. She spent the first four meets of the 2020-2021 season undefeated in the 100 fly, was the 3rd highest point scorer for Copper Hills’ girls, and finished the season ranked 8th in state for the 100 fly.

“When COVID hit and she couldn’t swim, she worked out at home, several times a day,” says Kylee’s mom (Tammy Nelson). “She found workouts online or made up her own, but she refused to let the pandemic take away everything she had worked for up to that point. When the pools opened again and she was able to go back for the first time, she was pleased that she still had her endurance, and the drudgery of all those workouts had paid off.”

Along with those quarantine-workouts, Kylee’s commitment to early-morning and after-school practices have helped propel her talents to where they are now. It’s this dedication to her sport that has earned Kylee the title of Copper Hills Swim Captain.

When asked what makes Kylee a good captain for this team, Coach Harper said, “Everything – she’s really good at motivating everybody else to work hard, and she doesn’t do that by telling them they should; she gets in and does the work with them.”

This hard work isn’t only a pattern in the pool but in the classroom as well. Kylee has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA her entire high school career. When asked what advice she would give student-athletes struggling to balance academics and athletics, Kylee said, “Make school a priority. If you’re disciplined in your sport, you’re disciplined in the classroom, and vise versa. The homework is still going to be due, just like the meet is still going to happen.”

Like anything in life, however, no matter how much time and effort you put into something, there are still bound to be bumps in the road. One major obstacle facing Kylee this season has been the repercussions of a world-wide pandemic. While stricter lane assignments and frequent COVID-testing haven’t been much of a bother, Kylee says not having spectators at meets has been wildly challenging. For the first time in years, Kylee doesn’t get to see her dad’s face when hers comes out of the water. While this would be difficult for anyone, it’s especially hard for Kylee because this is her last year swimming competitively, and she wishes her parents could be there to enjoy it with her. 

When Kylee is feeling overwhelmed by the abnormality of these present circumstances, she tells herself, “At least I can swim. At least I can go to the pool. At least I’m healthy… there are bigger things than swim.” She also notes that it’s important to cry.

The strangeness of this season hasn’t distracted from the many amazing memories Kylee has accumulated throughout her four years at Copper Hills. She recalls with fondness the early morning practices and many, many hours spent with her team. Kylee said, “During swim season, I’m gone from home and with my teammates from 5 AM – 5 PM. The bond we share is so spectacular because we spend so much time together; they truly become like family.”

Thanks to Kylee and other members of this Grizzly swim family, the girls swim team won Region this year for the first time in the school’s history! This success was no doubt influenced by Kylee’s excellent leadership and rigorous training. 

Coach Harper says in coming years, we can look forward to a tradition of success within the Copper Hills swim program, and this tradition will be a result of athletes like Kylee who, for four years, devoted their entire body, mind, and heart to this team. 

To Kylee and everyone else who works to make our school proud, thank you for your dedication to the Copper Hills family. You done good.