Kickin’ it Year Round
A long stretch of water lies ahead. It’s a familiar feeling.
“Take your mark.”
It’s just like all the years before. But this time it’s thirteen years of consecutive practice. And a promise is at stake.
Everyone stands in ready position. The whistle is heard and the clock starts ticking.
Swimmer and senior Sammie Burchill has dedicated a large portion of her life to the sport of swimming, starting when she was five years old and swimming year round at the age of ten. Now she practically lives in the pool, practicing for hours and training all twelve months of the year. This year, Burchill stood in front of the pool at a state competition with the goal of breaking the state record, a promise she said she had made to her coaches a few days before.
As the race finishes and the clock stops. Burchill can’t help but stare at her time.
“This is not real,” she said she thought as she dripped with water. “This is not real.”
She had just broken the 200 Individual Medley State Record with a time of 1:56.67.
Burchill’s swim coach, Chris Plumb, watched her as she achieved her goal after coaching her for many years prior. Plumb said it is moments like these when he really realizes his work is paying off.
“Watching athletes with the look on their face when they do something they weren’t sure they could do, that’s priceless,” Plumb said. “And that’s just a valuable lesson you could apply to anything, and once you learn how to do it, you can use it in other parts of your life.”
Plumb has spent 13 of his 20 years of coaching swimming at Carmel. Throughout his years coaching, he’s seen his athletes grow up from young kids into young adults.
“It gives me tremendous joy to be able to help mold who they become and give them really the work ethic and understanding of what it takes to be successful in the world,” Plumb said.
Burchill has been one of the students Plumb has watched grow up while swimming. Spending so much time in swimming, Burchill said she’s gotten close to her coaches and everyone on her team.
For Burchill, the time commitment she has put into her sport has allowed her to get to the level of swimming she is at now.
“My life revolves around the pool. I wake up, go to the pool, go to school and then back to practice. Especially during the school year, school is my break time and then it’s back to practice.”Senior Sammie Burchill
Spending around 20 hours a week at the pool, Burchill remains very committed to her sport and works hard to keep improving at each practice. Plumb said he agreed his swimmers put in a lot of effort to get where they’re at.
“Practices are challenging. They’re intense. We do stuff on land and in the water. We want our athletes getting stronger on land and in the water. It’s highly detailed. The workouts are very focused. They pinpoint on what skills we’re working on and trying to improve, and there’s a lot of racing and competition going on in workout,” Plumb said. “It’s definitely a challenging, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement.”
Along with Burchill, Taylor Crull, soccer player and senior, has also put in much of his time into his sport. Crull started playing at the age of 5 and continued from there, playing ten months out of the year.
For Crull, the time commitment he has to put into soccer has been a great challenge, particularly when he was in middle school, as he lost motivation to play during his eighth grade year.
“My priority was for friends above soccer, which I think it should be, but my drive was gone and every time I remembered I had practice, I’d be sad and wouldn’t want to go,” Crull said. “It was at a tough stage because it was something I’d done my entire life but didn’t know if I wanted to continue.”
Still, he said he continued to play for one more year, thinking, “I’m going to play and if there’s anything I don’t like about it, I’m going to quit.”
Looking back, Crull said he is happy to have stuck with it.
“I felt this whole new drive and motivation,” he said. “It’s hard to explain, but it’s something inside you that drives you to pursue it.”
Crull is now a varsity athlete and plans to continue playing as he goes into college. Despite the obstacles, he said he’s learned a lot from soccer and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Many athletes, like Crull, have to remain very committed in order to improve. Plumb said he has seen this first hand through his time coaching.
“It’s a commitment. You know what’s coming. You know what you got to do. You know what to expect,” Plumb said. “Coaches and members of the team put a lot of value in what we’ve been able to accomplish. I think there’s a physical and mental challenge, but I feel the athletes learn what it takes to be great, and they can learn and they can push themselves more than they thought they could and that’s the true value in the sport.”
Through everything, the thick and the thin, athletes like Burchill continue to advance in their sports because they love them. Burchill said she has learned many lessons in her years playing the sport, lessons that brought her to beat a state record and push her to continue to work hard.
“My coaches tell us that swimming’s important, but (they’re) also working on shaping you to be better people through the principles they teach in swimming: hard work, commitment, determination and integrity,” she said. “It’s helped me use those in everyday life and I’m definitely not the person I was when I started swimming.”