One day over the summer, 6-year-old Emily Thirion decided to get in the pool and splash around while two of her cousins were at swim practice.
It was either sink or swim and she hasn’t stopped swimming since.
The Warren Harding junior is coming off a season in which she placed 10th in the 100 breaststroke and 14th in the 50 freestyle at this year’s state swim meet.
“It really picked up when I got to high school, like practice, intensity wise — and just the intensity in general at meets — but I’ve always loved it,” Thirion said. “It’s never been a problem where I’ve felt obligated to do it because of a parent or a coach.”
One thing that has changed over time is the competition level and the nerves that come with that. Thirion said she never used to get nervous before meets, but her first couple years at the high school level made for some nerve-wracking races.
“I didn’t really have the hang of things at big meets, big competitions, even though I had been doing them in the past,” she said. “This past year I just really settled in.”
It showed in the pool as well. Thirion swam her best time of the season in the freestyle at the state meet and matched her personal best in the breaststroke.
“Everything just kind of worked out,” she said. “I made the final, which is exactly what I wanted.”
As much as Thirion loves to compete, it’s the special bond she’s built with her Raider teammates that she’s not ready to let go of just yet.
“My teammates, even if you’re having a rough day, are always there,” she said. “I mean swimming’s not always simply about competing. It’s about the friendships that you make and just about knowing how to support your community and the people you surround yourself with.”