Phoebe Ferguson wasn’t sure if swimming was the sport for her.
The Grandview Heights senior qualified for the Division II state swimming and diving in each of her first three seasons, but the sport was far from her passion when she first took the plunge.
Ferguson also played football, preferring to play on the field with her friends than the loneliness and monotony of swimming laps. However, when it was time to exercise, she decided to go for a swim and hasn’t looked back.
She holds six individual program records and is also a member of the record-breaking 200-meter freestyle and 400 free relays.
“When I first played football and swam, I definitely enjoyed football more because it was a team effort and you are not alone,” said Ferguson. “When I went to (swim) training, I was ready to stop. I never wanted to go when I was little, but now I never want to miss it.
“I found my love for the sport and so I stopped playing football. I knew that if I did my best, I would get better. You have to do what you want to do to get better. In football, every game is a team effort. I like to take my own responsibility, and I want to make it myself.”
Ferguson holds program records in the 100 free (52.47 seconds), 500 free (5:14.98), 100 butterfly (57.09), 100 breaststroke (1:11.98) and 200 individual medley (2:06, 51). She also broke her own program record in the 200 free with a 1:51.59 in the Jim Stacy Winter Championships on December 18 at SPIRE Academy in Geneva.
“I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go (in Geneva),” Ferguson said. “I was training hard, so my legs and body were hurting quite a bit. The 200 free and 100 free were events I wouldn’t normally swim in preliminaries, but I knew I had to trust the process. I could at night ( during the finals) I felt I was losing the time of the morning (preliminaries). I knew I was doing it right.”
Coach Susan Ferguson said her daughter is ahead of schedule this season. She expected Phoebe to put in a good performance, but is surprised at how low her times are right now.
“I knew Phoebe had what it takes to hit these times, but it was a pleasant surprise for her to hit them when she’s not tapering and after training hard with no rest,” said Coach Ferguson. “She’s gained a competitive edge over the last two years and I’m absolutely blown away. She’s already met her target times she set for the season. She’s adjusted those, so it’s going to be interesting to see what she can do.”
Ferguson became the program’s first freshman to reach the state awards podium by finishing sixth in the 200 IM (2:07.85). She was a sophomore in seventh place in the 200 IM (2:06.69) and last season finished third in the 200 IM (2:06.65) and fifth in the 100 fly (57.16).
“Phoebe has improved in her confidence and technique over the years,” said coach Ferguson. “She has also added strength training in recent years and that has helped. She is so much more confident.”
Ferguson has pledged to go swimming in Denison. She has a 4.4 GPA and wants to major in Kinesiology.
“With the amount of training it takes to become a good swimmer, there will always be points in your career when you don’t want to swim,” she said. “It’s tough mentally and physically. The amount of effort it takes is tough, but you have to be very committed, otherwise you won’t see the result in the end. You have to stay motivated to keep going.”