Sink or swim: challenges of being a little fish in a big pond


Gabi Vieira

As students walk past the cork board hanging outside the swimming pool, one name sticks out in particular: freshman Maria Newton.

“You get a piece of paper to hang on the board every time you qualify for State,” Newton said. “This year I have qualified for five individual events, and all three relays.”

For the first time since head coach Allison Wallace has been leading the team, West won the Parkway Quad, a tournament that was held at Parkway North this year.

“It was really fun to be a part of the class that finally brought it back for West to win since it hadn’t been done in years,” Newton said.    

Newton started swimming at the age of 11. By 14, she had been qualified for Zones.

“I was able to get third place for the 400-meter freestyle, and sixth place in the 200-meter backstroke in the whole Central Region,” Newton said.

After working with Wallace, Newton decided to sign up and compete with the Parkway Swim Club, where she continues to train during the off-season.

“I was lucky enough to work with Maria before she started to swim year round,” Wallace said. “She was on the YMCA team and had beautiful strokes and showed ton of potential.”

Newton, now 15, swims over 15 hours a week sometimes even two times a dayand manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA.

“A lot of the other swimmers have been swimming club year round and competitively since they were four years old,” Newton said. “It’s a little intimidating because I haven’t had as much practice or training as they had, but it’s never too late to try something if you want to do it.”