By Sharon Robb

June 14, 2017—Working toward a common goal with teammates who share the same vision has helped Kelley Heron raise the bar in her swimming.

Heron, 17, a senior-to-be at Pembroke Pines Charter this fall, realized that added motivation her sophomore year of high school.

“Swimming high school helps you realize how it’s going to be in college,” Heron said. “You can’t take vacations whenever you want, you have to be consistent, you have to train and be focused if you want to go to a good college and swim there.”

Training with South Florida Aquatic Club’s national group and head coach Chris Anderson for the past three years has not only helped the backstroker improve, but focus on her future in the sport.

“Training with good people every day where everyone has the same mindset and same goals where they want to be has definitely helped my swimming,” Heron said.

At the March 24-27 Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships held in her home pool at Academic Village, Heron turned in a Wonder Woman-like effort. She won the 200-yard backstroke in 2:00.86, placed second in the 50-yard backstroke in 26.64 and 100-yard backstroke in 57.95, all three best times.

She was also second in the 50-yard breaststroke in a best time 31.03; second in the 100-yard individual medley in a best time 58.02; fifth in the 100-yard butterfly in a best time 57.84, the first time she broke 1 minute (her previous best was 1:00.37); was eighth in the 50-yard butterfly and swam a best time 26.44 in prelims; and was fifth in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:08.54. She was a member of the winning 200-yard medley relay (1:42.97), one of three relays she swam.

Heron won her first high point award since age 10 with 159 points and played a key role in SOFLO defending its team title.

Heron is now diligently training for next month’s sectionals, hoping to get her Junior National cut time in the backstroke. She will also compete in her third Futures Championships.

“Getting all best times gave me confidence,” Heron said. “It was the training I did for the meet. It was a combination of everything with workouts, dryland, running and watching my diet. I have gotten older and stronger. I have more muscle and I am swimming more. I am disciplined which helps when I am in school and doing homework.”

Anderson has been pleased with Heron’s progress through the years. She started swimming with SOFLO at age 8 and is one of the swimmers who has been with the club the longest.

“She has done a great job,” Anderson said. “She is physically fit and is consistently in the weight room. She has become a better athlete and that translates into fast swims. She leads by example and is a great role model for our younger swimmers.”

Heron stumbled on to swimming by process of elimination. She tried softball, tennis and several other sports before a friend suggested swimming.

“I wasn’t coordinated at all and I didn’t do good in any of them,” Heron said. “I liked swimming and I was good at it and that helped. I am glad I stayed with the sport.

“When I was 8 I wasn’t thinking about a college scholarship and now I am. It’s been good working with Coach. I think probably my endurance and technique have improved with him. When I was younger I didn’t understand pace at all, I just knew to go fast. But now I see a change in the 200 and 100 back.”

Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR backpack.

SOFLO sponsor TYR is a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories and one of the nation’s top companies.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com