Stroking Into Success


Lauren Payton (12) uses her butterfly stroke to finish her race with power.

Kelly Cronin, Crown Writer and Photographer

When people hear the words student-athlete, most that sports that come to mind are basketball, football, track, etc. The one that is quite overlooked, but shouldn’t be disregarded, is swimming. Swimming involves complete concentration and demands strength in every muscle of one’s body. Lauren Payton (12) has all the insight of what goes into being a competitive swimmer. From the sore muscles to the late night practices, to the anxiety-filled competitions; this sport takes precise skill, determination, and passion.

Payton began swimming at the ripe age of eight years old. She competes with a team called Academy Bullets. Her team consists of hundreds of other young swimmers. Yet, there are lots of things that set Payton apart from her peers. She practices seven days a week. A common misconception is that swimmers only practice in the water. Certain days of the week for swimmers are dedicated to weightlifting, strength training, and other forms of agility.

Sports commonly become more competitive as athletes transition from middle school to high school. In Payton’s case, it was a little different. Since she has been with the same club from elementary school to high school, she became more independent in building up her stamina to continue to be competitive. This didn’t stop her from striving to become better, stronger, and even more driven. Although Marian does not have a swimming pool, it is still considered a school sport. When Payton goes to competitions outside of her club, they are to represent Marian, with the opportunity to compete in sectionals her sophomore year. Through Academy Bullets, she took part in junior nationals. At thirteen and fourteen years old she placed first at state for the 200 Fly in her age group.

Payton plans to continue her love for swimming at St. Louis, Missouri. She believes it is the perfect fit because of their highly reputable team and their elite physical therapy graduate program which is her desired career. Being a full-time student-athlete is very time-consuming. Over the years, Payton has learned to manage her time in a very commendable way. She takes three AP classes as a senior and still manages to practice every night. “If this sport has taught me one thing, it is definitely how to manage my time,” says Payton. Payton has an immense passion for the sport and is looking forward to the competitive years to come.