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Athletes of the Month

By Colin Anderson

Ryan Heick, Senior

Lake City High School

Senior Ryan Heick spends a lot of time at the pool, but that time isn’t spent just hanging with friends or working on a tan. For the past six years, Ryan has competed for both the Lake City High School and Coeur d’Alene area swim teams. Being on two teams and training pretty much year-round can be taxing physically and mentally, something Ryan has learned during her years of competing.

“A big challenge I have had to overcome while swimming has been learning about what my body needs most because I would get very sick from training so hard and burning myself out,” she said. Ryan admits that not being able to swim at times was hard on her mental state, but it taught her that rest, recovery and listening to her body are equally as important as the intense training sessions she enjoys.

Another challenge for Ryan was a turnover in both her teams coaching staff at the same time. After four years of consistency, things changed, but she’s also learned to adapt to this as well. “New coaches brought challenges with adapting to something new. I overcame this by understanding that I will make the best of any situation no matter how it’s changed, and I can be the change I want to see within anything in my life.”

Helping her deal with adversity and also triumphs are Ryan’s teammates, whom she says are like a big family. “We all have our own goals that we are pushing for, but we can all train together and work hard with the people we love—and it is very rewarding,” said Ryan.

A 3.9 GPA student, Ryan plans on attending secondary education in the near future but will most likely be taking some time off after graduation to explore what she’s truly interested in pursuing as her life’s work. Some of those interests currently include becoming a nurse, naturopath, or occupational therapist for special needs children so she can continue to help people on a day-to-day basis.

While her career as a competitive swimmer will likely end this season, Ryan says swimming will always be a big part of her life. She won’t be competing but will still be bringing many of the lessons and skills learned in the pool with her in other areas of her life.

“One life lesson I have learned throughout swimming was from my coach Bob Wood. He taught me that supporting your teammates and lifting up people around you is what is going to get you and everyone around you to reach their full potential. It’s through a community of support that we can get our furthest, and I will always remember that.”

Abbey Whiting, Senior

Coeur d’Alene High School

Photo by Brady Campbell Photography

While competitive swimming can be looked at as an individual sport, Coeur d’Alene High School senior Abbey Whiting can contest that it’s more of a team environment than most can imagine. Abbey’s best friends are swimmers, and when the team suffered the heartbreaking tragedy of losing one of their own to a car crash, Abbey and her teammates were all there to support each other.

“When we heard about the accident, the first thing we did was call each other and planned where we could go to talk and be together in such a scary time,” Abbey recalled. The team thought their friend was going to pull through, but six days after the accident he passed away. “This was absolutely crushing for everyone. Life hasn’t been the same since he’s been gone, but as a team we grew even closer. We don’t take any moment together for granted anymore. We are all still devastated, but we are stronger and closer than ever,” said Abbey.

More determined than ever, Abbey is dedicated to making her senior season the best yet. She’s been with the high school team all four years and has been a state finalist each year. She’s also competed the past 11 years for the Coeur d’Alene Area Swim Team (CAST) and has brought home several titles and a most improved award. Always one to challenge herself, she’s also entered open water races outside of the pool and placed in the top 10 on multiple occasions.

Abbey is currently weighing several options on whether to continue her competitive swimming at the next level. “If I found a school with a swimming program I love that allows me to focus on academics first, then I will probably swim,” she said. Abbey is dual enrolled at NIC and hopes to knock out a year of college credits early. She wants to become a nurse and work in pediatrics due to her love of children.

Abbey credits her coaches and the sport of swimming itself for teaching her three principals she utilizes everyday: hard work, dedication and consistency. “These are the things that allow me to keep progressing, and without them I would get nowhere with swimming. These qualities have also translated to academic success. I am successful with swimming and school because I put in the work, always dedicated, and I consistently show up,” said Abbey.

Whether she continues swimming or not, Abbey has learned through triumph and hardship what it truly means to be a teammate. “My favorite part about swimming will always be being a part of the team and family. My best friends are all on the team, and I love seeing them every day.”

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