Little fish in big pond: Freshman earns medals at state swim meet

Swimming is a sport where fractions of seconds make the difference in medaling and hoping for a better time next season. Freshman Abby Surley has progressed this season to shave entire seconds off her time and advance to state as an individual and a part of two relay teams. Filling the role of breaststroker has been integral to the team’s overall success, helping them earn both a silver and bronze medal at the state meet.

Being one of the youngest members of the swim team can be intimidating, but Abby finds support in her older teammates.

“It’s nice to be a freshman on the varsity team because of all the older kids,” Abby said. “They’re very supportive and they like to help me with school and they give me good advice.”

Abby favors the breaststroke out of all the swimming relays because it’s the easiest on the lungs, and she has been doing it for about 3 years.

“I love the breaststroke for several reasons,” Abby said. “One, I get to breathe every stroke and I don’t have to hold my breath, two, I can hear every thing that’s going on around me, and three, I get to just chill out because I’m doing less work than everyone else.”

Teammate Julia Cook thinks Abby has a lot of potential and has already contributed to the team’s success.

“She’s a really strong breaststroker that helped our relay get to state this year,” Julia said. “Her coming in made a big difference because the breaststroker last year was about 6 or 7 seconds slower.”

Abby’s mom, Nikki Surley, is also one of the swim coaches, allowing her to witness Abby’s development from the beginning.

“Abby didn’t start doing club swim until she was 11, so for that kind of growth to occur in such a short period of time is exciting,” Surley said. “As a mom and a coach, it’s exciting to watch her and see what’s going to happen when she keeps working out with people that are going to challenge her.”

Abby has made significant improvement in her first year on the varsity swim team dropping time in her main event.

“She has dropped a lot of time,” Surley said. “When she first started the season her 100 breaststroke was at 1:13 and she ended the season at a 1:06. For any swimmer to drop 7 seconds over a 6 month period is a pretty big deal.”

Abby’s teammates have watched her mature over the season, but with that maturity she has kept her silliness too.

“Abby is super positive,” Julia said. “She’s always in a good mood, she’s always smiling, and it kind of gives us older swimmers as a sense of light. Older swimmers are just more serious about things so her coming on to the team helps us have more fun.”

The coach views Abby’s commitment to swimming as one of the key components to her success.

“I think that she is one of the only freshman who is fully committed to doing club swimming and Viking swimming,” Surley said. “She does morning workouts with both swim teams.”

Going to state as a freshman was a major accomplishment for Abby, and she enjoyed every minute of it.

“Going to state was exciting,” Abby said. “I was nervous because there was a whole bunch of people and they were all looking at everyone trying to see where everyone was, but everyone was nice.”

The team has improved as a group this season, and the coaches hope they continue to work well and push each other.

“I’d like to see them get faster,” Surley said. “I’d like to see them work a little harder together as a team so that they know exactly what each other is doing. I’d like them to inspire the other girls who are pretty close in their time to bring up their relay times so that they can take another one to state.”

Abby has personal goals for continuing in her years of high school swimming and hopes to make it to the Olympic trials or collegiate level swimming.

“I want to try to get 28 seconds in my 50 breaststroke and I want to try to get to finals in my 100 breaststroke,” Abby said. “I want to keep working and improving over the next three years.”