When a freshman earns a state swimming championship, it might be easy to spend summer resting on your laurels, waiting for the next varsity season to arrive.
Yet, Haley Yelle, a sophomore-to-be at Legacy, is working through the summer to better herself as a swimmer, both by technique and physical development.
Yelle won the 4A state title in the 200m Free and was second in the 500m Free last season and is on the verge of qualifying for the USA Swimming National Championships.
The fact she is still yet to qualify for the national meet may be one of the key reasons why Yelle is in the pool often and lifting weights twice a week.
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Yelle said she’s practicing twice a day four days a week and once per day on Wednesday and Saturday. She takes Sunday off. She hits the weight room on Monday and Friday.
In her spare time of the summer vacation, Yelle volunteers her time working with the kids’ camp at Christ United Methodist.
What also may be driving Yelle is the realization that she is able to achieve goals which were initially just goals.
“My coaches told me I could do it, but I didn’t think it could become a reality,” Yelle said of making it to the state meet and capturing the event title. In addition to the first and second place finish in the individual events, Yelle was a member of the 400x4 Free relay which placed 15th at the state meet.
Yelle said the summer workouts are designed to help her shave about four seconds off her 200m and 500m times in order to qualify for the national meet.
Although she said it will be easier to trim four seconds off the 500m event, Yelle feels her better event is the 200m. The qualifying time is based on the 2012 Olympic trial cut, with the 2016 qualifying times yet to be finalized.
“Personally, I’m better at the 200,” Yelle said. “I’ve been dropping more in the 200.”
The summer also offers a chance to focus on other strokes, such as the butterfly and back.
Yelle said she’s been working on a few other strokes with varying levels of success so far to become a more well-rounded swimming competitor.
The secondary strokes aren’t the only thing a bit different for Yelle in working in the summer season. Yelle said swimming the “long course” in Olympic-sized pools is different than the “short course” swimming in the varsity season. Longer pool lengths cut down on the number of turns in races and makes for a completely different style of racing, she said.
“It becomes more of an endurance race,” Yelle said of the longer pool, while the varsity swimming becomes more of a sprint.
But Yelle looks forward to getting back to her Legacy teammates and working on another successful season.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my teammates and encourage them and inspiring them in their events, too,” Yelle said of the chance for the hard work together to build strong bonds.
The advantage, though, of working out in the summer with select teammates from others she’ll likely compete against in high school competition, is that she can see how others train.
“You can compare yourself to them,” she said. “I can tell myself, ‘I know the only reason she beat me is that she works harder in practice,’” Yelle said of the mental aspect of pushing herself in practices.
“It’s hard to lose to other people sometimes,” she said of the success of her select teammates during the varsity season, “but I’m happy for them.”