With a year like no other and a season like no other, freshman Laney Weatherby concluded her swim season against tough competition. Despite being a freshman she earned the right to finish her season at State.
Weatherby said they had to sit separated from other teams and there were no spectators allowed. In addition, teams had to sit in the stands to cheer on teammates instead of on the pool deck.
Practices at home had been different as well. “A big change for us is instead of everyone being on one side of the pool, we have to split it in half so some people were on one side of the pool and other people were on the other side of the pool. And so we weren’t able to have the same team comradery, we didn’t get to know everyone as well,” sophomore Lydia Grider said.
It’s clear this swim season had its difficulties, similar to other sports. “It’s been challenging. Typically during a high school swim season we practice every afternoon five days a week plus two or three mornings a week, but because of COVID we’ve been restricted because we’ve had to rotate because we share the Aquatic Center with Lee’s Summit and Lee’s Summit North,” head swim coach, Jennifer Ailshire said.
Weatherby has been swimming for half her life and said she stuck with swimming because she said it felt like a family to her. With a different setup for swim practices that were COVID friendly Weatherby said, “It has become normal after a while but as a team you had to work for a while to become a team together because of COVID.”
While Weatherby isn’t the first freshman to go to state, she is not a typical freshman swimmer according to Ailshire “It’s somewhat typical, usually I have one or two each year during both the girls and boys season but what’s not typical is to have a freshman qualified for State in so many different individual events like Laney has,” Ailshire said.
“Laney is just a very well-rounded swimmer, she can swim all four strokes, fly, back, breast, and free and swim them really well. She’s got really good technique and she’s a very very hard worker and so you combine all those pieces and that’s gonna put her in a really good position to be successful for this year and for the next three years,” Ailshire explained.
“Breaststroke is what I was good at the time I joined swim and it just kind of became my favorite stroke,” Weatherby said, “Not a lot of the people liked breaststroke on the team that I was on so it was kind of cool to be a breaststroker.” Even though breaststroke is her favorite, Weatherby said that fly is probably her best stroke and she likes competing in the 200 Individual Medley(IM). 200 IM is where you swim all four strokes for 50 yards each.
Weatherby swam the 200 yard IM, 100 yard fly, and two relays, the 200 yard freestyle and the 400 yard freestyle at State. Weatherby placed 13th in 200 IM, 5th in the 100 fly, her 200 yard freestyle relay came in 5th and her 400 yard freestyle came in 12th.
s a freshman Weatherby had some takeaways from State. “It’s definitely very competitive and you race teams you haven’t raced all season, but as a team you definitely become closer but you are also definitely sad because the seniors are leaving,” Weatherby said.
Even though she’s a freshman and hasn’t had a normal introduction to high school swim, Weatherby has made an impact on the team. “She’s really compassionate, she’s a team player, she always works hard, she always gives her best, she loves to support our other teammates, just a really good teammate,” Grider said.
Ailshire also said Weatherby has had a positive impact on the team. “Laney is super positive and really fun to coach. She is just a very coachable athlete, she listens and takes feedback really well. It’s just the positivity that she brings to the team and just her attitude helps her be an even better swimmer.”
Weatherby said some of the things that drive her in swim are her team and knowing she accomplished something. “On the high school swim team everyone is cheering for you and every time you take a breath you can see them.” Weatherby also said that the competition in the pool helps motivate her. She and her teammates would race each other in the pool and motivate each other to go faster.
As for Weatherby’s future she said she hopes to swim in college and break more records on the school board. She also said she hopes to medal in the top 8 in the coming years of State swim.