Swimming toward Olympic success

Freshman swimmer competes in junior Olympics


Photo by Rachael Sizemore

Freshman Haley Wood poses with the medals she won at the Junior Olympics.

Story by Joseph Rodgers, staff writer

Butterflies fly in her stomach as she prepares to start the event. She gasps for air as she maneuvers her way through the water, emerging confident in her victory.

Freshman Haley Wood enters her first year of her Tiger Shark career with extraordinary athletic achievements–she went to the Junior Olympics near Dallas this past summer, competing in several different relay events.

“I got to the Junior Olympics by meeting the qualifying times, or by getting a first, second or third rating at an AAU swim meet,” freshman Haley Wood said. “I had to work hard for the weeks leading up to the big event, and a few days before we left to go, I went on taper, which means I didn’t work as hard so my muscles could relax to help my performance.”

Haley has had a passion for swimming dating back all the way to middle school.

“In the 5th grade, I joined a few of my friends for a couple practices for an after-school swim club,” Wood said. “At first, I thought I was awful and wouldn’t get anywhere in swimming, but my mom pushed me to keep trying. After a year and a half, I moved to the competitive team where we went out of town for swim meets. Eventually, those meets boosted my confidence and it molded me into the swimmer I am today.”

Wood did multiple relay events at the Junior Olympics, five of which she advanced in.

“I went to the finals in the 50m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke and the 200m breaststroke,” Wood said. “I was very excited but extremely nervous. However, my nerves helped me swim better,”

Wood won an overall seventh place medal, along with fourth and seventh place medals in her relays. She now starts her legacy as a Tiger Shark and strives to be her best in swimming for her school.

“I think that my achievements at the Junior Olympics helped me to be confident in trying new events I usually wouldn’t do,” Wood said. “I think if everyone on the swim team stepped outside their comfort zone, it would really improve our performance as an overall team.”

This upcoming summer, she plans to attend the Junior Olympics again, wanting to do so past her senior year. Wood also has some personal goals such as improving her breaststroke and continuing to pursue swim.

“In UIL swimming, I have a goal of one day making it all the way to state,” Wood said. “It will take lots of hard work, but I’m willing to do it to achieve my goal.”