By Sharon Robb
April 23, 2017—Alexis Christensen gave up mixed martial arts for swimming and she’s so happy she did.
“I used to do mixed martial arts, but I didn’t like it,” she said. “I didn’t like touching a bunch of sweaty boys.”
Christensen, who also did gymnastics, dance and karate, was in an advanced class with high school boys. Her father and brother are also involved in mixed martial arts.
“I did wrestling some times and part of the time I did boxing. I did it for about two years and I got to a stripe green belt but I wanted to do something else.”
Christensen decided to try swimming and signed up with South Florida Aquatic Club eighteen months ago. She knew how to swim underwater and went snorkeling with her family but learned her first freestyle stroke from Coach Carlos. She started at Level 4 in lessons and moved from pre-team to team.
She is currently working with Coach Luis and the Asteroids and making remarkable progress.
“I am a lot happier in swimming,” she said. “I really like it. I love being in the water. I found it peaceful and enjoyable.”
Christensen, 11, a fifth grader at Hawks Bluff Elementary School, is a straight A student who loves to read and write.
In the last three months her progress in the pool has been remarkable.
In the February Panther Invite at Pine Crest, she was ninth in the 500-yard freestyle in 6:21.98; 12th in the 200-yard freestyle in 2:22.22. She swam the 50-yard freestyle in 31.48 and 50-yard backstroke in 36.81.
In the Area 3 Developmental Championships in March, Christensen had some impressive time drops. She was second in the 500-yard freestyle in a best time 6:07.61, bettering her previous best of 6:21.98; third in the 200-yard freestyle in a best time 2:16.77, bettering her 2:22.22 previous best; fourth in the 200-yard backstroke in a best time 2:44.91, lowering her previous best of 2:54.32; and, sixth in the 100-yard backstroke in a best time 1:15.92, dropping from 1:19.06. She also led off SOFLO’s third place 200-yard medley relay that finished third.
At Saturday’s Florida Gold Coast Jupiter Invitational, Christensen had two nice time drops before the meet was cancelled on Sunday because of inclement weather. In the 100-meter backstroke she finished in 1:28.89, a time drop of 14.44 seconds and in the 50-meter freestyle she finished in 34.53, dropping 6.46 seconds. She was also tenth in the 200-meter freestyle in 2:37.84.
“I love the freestyle and backstroke and long distance swims,” Christensen said. “It’s nice and relaxing.
“My goals are to keep dropping times and improving my technique. I would like to move up to the Bronze Group by the time I turn 13.”
Christensen loves her “second family” at SOFLO.
“I love my friends, they encourage me to do better every single day,” she said. “Coach Luis is is wonderful. I think he cares a lot about his swimmers and he is so funny.”
Christensen would like to swim in high school and college. Her long range goal is to swim in the Olympics.
“When I am in the pool, one thing I love about swimming is that I think about nothing else but swimming,” Christensen said. “It’s so peaceful in the water. It gives me peace of mind.
“When I see swimmers in front of me it makes me want to go faster to try and catch them.”
Christensen trains six days a week like most of her teammates. Her 7-year-old brother Preston is taking swim lessons at SOFLO in addition to mixed martial arts.
“I would like him to enjoy swimming as much as I do with my team,” she said.
“I am having fun at the meets. I really enjoyed getting into a few finals. It was cool to see my name on the board. I was a little intimidated by some of the other girls. They were really big. I am 5-2.”
School ends in June for Christensen, who is looking forward to summer training while keeping up her reading.
“I love to read, I am a book worm,” said Christensen, who is currently reading Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty, a former No. 1 New York Times best seller. “I read all the time at practice and swim meets.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org