Why Run When You Can Fly?


Mish Photography

From left to right, top to bottom: Gavin Miller, Tim Leano, Parker Hatch, Kaden Eichelberger, Kylan Olson, Tyler Eichelberger, Andrew Ludwig, Santos-Caden Marques, Bryan Phillips, Holden Davis, Steven Collins, Liberty Rhoades, Chase Ryan, Parker Farschou, Xander Jones, Michael Molina, Jaxson Pershon, Tanner Greenhalgh, Morgan Hoonaker, Amanda Boynton, Bayli Atherley, Samantha Miller, Katelyn Riddle, Jade Updike, Dayana Rodriguez, Lillian Smith, Leo Eschler, Savili Simanu, Madison Pierce, Natalie Jensen, Marissa Visser, Cambrie Babcock, Ashleigh Greenhalgh, Carly Wilkens, Courtney Reading, Hailey Bachman, Lizzy Kocherhans, Lily Mangum, Natalie Bridges, Kamilla Bodero, Kylee Olsen, Kelti Olson, Jaden Smith, Samara Huayhua, Taylor Guido, Alexis McDonald, Brittany Larocco.

The alarm blares its waking tune. Mumbling and groaning is followed by shuffling feet. It’s 4:30 in the morning, and time for practice. A half hour later, the swimmer jumps into the icy water, chills running down her spine. She pulls through the water, feeling strong and efficient. Stroke after stroke, minute after minute, she puts in the work, so she can be ready to touch the wall on race day. After practice, she’s off to school, only to find herself back at the pool just hours later. For her, it’s a home away from home. Being a Grizzly swimmer isn’t easy, but she loves it. And this season was one for the books.

Within the past four years, the Copper Hills Swim Team has taken off, flying through records left and right. Since 2019, a total of six different school records have been broken more than twelve different times. The CH girls even took the Region III title twice in a row, something never seen before in Copper Hills Swimming history. 

Ashleigh Greenhalgh, a senior captain, recounted her excitement from the event. “There was a lot of doubt, pressure, and stress as we went into Region, but we were able to prove everyone wrong and take the title.”

Sure enough, Copper Hills wasn’t the favorite going into the 2022 Region Competition. After losing to Mountain Ridge at the District Meet, tension was high. Rumors of trash talk among the Sentinels was spreading. At one meet against the Sentinels, a Mountain Ridge swimmer was overheard saying, “6A has no competition.” 

Region wasn’t an easy victory. After the first few events, Mountain Ridge was in the lead. It wasn’t until the 500 freestyle, when the girls swept the podium and won a whopping 50 points, that they sealed the deal. However, winning was a team effort. The girls and boys collectively got numerous personal records, beating their competitors by hundredths of seconds. A number of swimmers took home multiple medals, adding them to their collections.

“When we found out we won, we all were ecstatic. It was so fun to be able to take region twice throughout high school,” Greenhalgh said.

So, what’s the team’s secret recipe to success? First off, the team has a consistent training schedule. “We have two practices a day, totaling about 15 hours a week. It is an extremely demanding sport, but it has helped me learn so much, including discipline” Greenhalgh said.

Lillian Smith, Sophomore, and member of the state team, said that working hard and working together has helped her find success. “Swimming taught me how to be tough, and to do it even if you don’t want to because it pays off.” She continued, “I learned how to better compete in my own race by winning the mental game with the help of my friends on the team and watching the people who are faster than me.” 

Smith isn’t alone when she talks about hard work. Steven Collins, a sophomore state swimmer, expressed his view on persevering and having a good work ethic. “I’ve learned that fun times can also be through hard times, and working hard is the key to improvement.” When he’s struggling, he likes to think about his purpose, and why he loves the sport.

Collins dealt with his fair share of injuries and setbacks this season, but he wasn’t alone. Other swimmers were faced with sickness, surgery, and mental trials throughout the season and during the state competition. Greenhalgh had a grueling event schedule, swimming back-to-back events: the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle. Not only was this difficult physically, but it was also mentally draining. However, she had a solution. “Whenever I meet a negative thought I counteract it with multiple positive thoughts,” Greenhalgh said, “this helps my mental state improve and prepares me for my race. I just have to take my races one at a time and know I’ve done everything I can to succeed.” 

They succeed because they never give up, defining themselves by their determination and drive, not their failures. Despite multiple challenges, the athletes kept going, and that’s what defines this Grizzly Swim team.