Gracie Slusser will be swimming her final meet today for Blacksburg High School in state competition.
Her sister, Hailey, is only a junior and together, they make quite a dynamic duo. The two helped their squad win the conference 32 title two weeks ago, but fell short in the regional last week. Now, they set their eyes on rebounding today in the 3A state swim meet.
Hailey is the freestyle and breaststroke swimmer, while Gracie is freestyler and was part of the 200 freestyle relay team that took first place in the region meet.
Of course, the bond between sisters is hard to explain and sometimes stronger than anything in the world. It also doesn’t hurt to have a second pair of eyes and ears in and around the competition.
Both admit that bond of swimming together has been a plus.
“Swimming with my sister has been a major plus, not only is she there to push me to be faster and keep the pace with her, she is there to share my pain during a hard set. Since we are about the same speed. It’s always been comforting to have a familiar face to always help me along the way, even when I felt like giving up. She has always been there for me from the beginning, we’ve been swimming together since I was six years old and she was eight,” Hailey said.
Gracie said that time has included laughing through practices and competitions, and pushing her to keep going.
They both seem to giggle a little bit when they described their memories of hitting the pool together. They looked back at the time at Blacksburg High School. Swimming for Blacksburg High School, according to Gracie, has always been such a great experience.
“You meet so many different people from your school that you otherwise may not have ever gotten a chance to know. My swim coach, Chris Reilly, has always made sure to keep a balance between having fun and competing with the team. He has always been fair with all of the swimmers and put all of us swimmers before himself. What I’ve really taken away from the high school team is how much coach Chris has done for all of us and the camaraderie and bonding within the team and all of my teammates,” she said.
The elder sister, Gracie, plans to attend the College of Charleston in South Carolina in the fall and study Hospitality and Tourism in the downtown historical area of Charleston.
No one else in the girls’ family have ever swum competitively, but they appreciate those that might be in the stands this afternoon.
“Through the years, my parents have learned the ins and outs of swimming. My parents both competed in sports in high school and are always there at meets to cheer us on and keep our mental game in check. My dad (Mike), being the most competitive, is constantly pushing me to be tough and competitive during meets while my mom (Jennifer) can always be heard yelling in the stands. Through all 10 years of swimming, my parents have never missed a summer league, high school or year-round meet. Looking back, I am so grateful for all of the support they have given me through my entire swimming career,” Gracie said.
Hailey is also grateful for that support and has a longer term goal of using the pool and her skills for a possible college scholarship
“I am currently trying to stay in training so I can get my times down and become a top swimmer in states by my senior year of high school. I would also like to gain experience from swimming for a future career in being a coach or personal trainer,” she said.