Grace Haskett entered Columbus North last fall hoping to someday break the school record in the 100-yard backstroke.
She didn’t envision doing it as a freshman.
Haskett, however, broke Emma Wyke’s 1-year-old record with a 55.47-second clocking in the state preliminaries. She came back with a 56.06 the next day to finish sixth in the state finals.
“I am actually pleased with this year,” said Haskett, The Republic Athlete of the Year for Girls Swimming. “Breaking the record was my ultimate goal, and I didn’t think I was going to get it until maybe my sophomore year. But my coaches and my teammates had faith in me, and to break it was really cool.”
Haskett medaled in four events at the state meet. She finished 16th in the 50 freestyle and swam on the Bull Frogs’ seventh-place 200 medley and 14th-place 200 freestyle relay teams.
“To make it to state in four events was also cool,” Haskett said. “To get top eight in the 100 back was awesome. This whole year has been awesome.”
“The one thing people around the state don’t know about Grace is her heart,” North coach Jim Sheridan said. “She’s a very tall young lady with a huge heart that wants to win every time she’s out there, and she proved that starting off this year as a freshman by breaking a very fine 100 back record.”
This season, Grace and her sister, sophomore Olivia Haskett, commuted to Columbus from their home in Bedford with their father Bryce, who works at Cummins. That meant getting up at 3 a.m. on the days the team had morning practices.
The family is hoping to sell their home in Bedford this spring so they can move to Columbus.
“It was a toughie sometimes,” Grace Haskett said. “Getting up at 3 is always a struggle, but having my sister with me and my dad, they’re always encouraging. If I didn’t have them with me pushing me and striving for the best for me, they always were behind me, looking for the best.”
“Grace and her family were a huge addition to our program,” Sheridan said. “One of the things that Grace needed to focus on here was strengthening her upper body so she could contend with the harder practices, which she knew in her own mind would help her through the season get faster throughout.”
Haskett, who hopes to swim in college, has continued hitting the pool since the state meet. She is currently training for the senior state championships coming up in March.
Next year, Haskett hopes to swim in the low 54s in the backstroke, medal by finishing in the top eight in the 50 freestyle and help the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams break school records and medal at the state meet.
“I want kids to understand and learn about themselves what they want to achieve,” Sheridan said. “It’s not important what I think they can achieve. It’s about showing them what they can achieve, and she believes that the sky is the limit, and she’s started it out pretty well.
“She’s up in the clouds right now, and now, we have to make the next jump,” he said. “Over the next three years, I think you’ll see her contend for a couple of state titles. She’ll be fun to watch.”