BEFORE Olivia and Grace Haskett dive into the pool at Columbus North for swim practice every Tuesday and Thursday morning, they’ve already completed one grueling task.
The Hasketts get up at 3 a.m. to get ready for an 80-minute drive to Columbus North with their father from their home in Bedford.
Their commute to school will get substantially easier when the Hasketts move to Columbus, possibly as soon as this spring. But for now, they make the 59-mile trip every day.
“It’s more of a mental thing than it is a physical thing,” said Grace, a freshman. “You get up, and you don’t want to go, but you have to you. You have to be that committed to swimming.”
“I really don’t like waking up every morning and everybody else having like two hours’ extra sleep,” said Olivia, a sophomore. “But I always keep in my head that someday it will pay off. That’s all I keep thinking about.”
Olivia swam for Bedford North Lawrence as a freshman last year and has thrived since the move. So has Grace, who set Conference Indiana records in winning the 100-yard backstroke and as part of the winning 200 medley relay team.
Grace had the fastest times in both the
50 freestyle and 100 backstroke going into the North Sectional, which began with the preliminaries on Thursday and concludes with Saturday’s finals. She has the second-fastest time in school history in the 100 backstroke.
“I don’t know if it’s been a surprise as much as a pleasure,” North coach Jim Sheridan said. “Both girls are an open book in terms of swimming. Grace has always been a little bit faster, and they both work very hard for everything they get.
“Olivia has been a joy to have on the team,” he said. “I know she was the one that thought most about it because she was already on a team down in Bedford. Olivia shot through and was able to make the 100 fly and 100 back for us and score at our conference championships, which was huge.”
Grace began swimming with Donner Swim Club last winter after having been with Lawrence County Aquatics. Olivia began at Donner over the summer.
“We tried going to Bedford, but the swimming program here is much better,” Grace said. “I’ve known this whole girls team since I was little when I swam USA Swimming, so when the Bedford club went down, I decided I should come here.”
So now, they make the trip to Columbus with their father, Bryce, who took a job at Cummins last year, and sometimes their mother, April, who splits her time between a hospital in Paoli and Columbus Regional Hospital.
“For me, it’s not that big a deal,” Bryce said. “I feel bad for the girls because as soon as we hit the car on a school day, we’re doing homework on the way home, and in the mornings, as soon as they hit the car, they’re asleep.
“I tell the girls ‘Do your homework in the car as much as you can.’ And when we get home we eat supper. We try to eat as a family. That’s pretty important. Then, we go to bed.”
Olivia said she is adjusted to school but not to the commute.
“I always struggle with homework,” Olivia said. “Sometimes, I’m not able to do homework on the way home when I can’t have light in the car.”
That is an inconvenience they hope will soon be alleviated when the family moves to Columbus.
“We planned on moving here before the season got going, but I keep remodeling the house, and it keeps delaying when I put the house on the market,” Bryce said. “But the goal is to sell the house here as soon as high school season is done.”
Bryce said some of the other girls on the team have given Olivia and Grace a place to stay between morning and afternoon practices and on days when they’ve arrived at school only to find out it’s been delayed or canceled.
“The weather is the biggest thing right now,” Bryce said. “The parents and everybody have been very wonderful over here in terms of if there’s been a delay or something like that. They’ve been able to help us out. I really appreciate that.”
Bryce has known Sheridan for 12 years since his son Luke, who is now a freshman swimming at IUPUI, began competing at the club level.
“I like the swim program here,” Bryce said. “I like Jim Sheridan.”
“I love the people here, and I love swimming with Mr. Sheridan,” Olivia said. “I hope I get to swim the rest of my high school years with him.”
Sheridan is happy to have the Hasketts as part of the North program.
“It’s definitely a pleasure,” he said. “They’re two fantastic young ladies to have in your program. They’re very spirited and both very goal-oriented to continue to get better and maybe open some college doors for themselves down the road.”