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Senior Abby Kirtland swam solid times in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke for the Indians’ girls’ swim team at the SCC Championship. (Photo courtesy of Colin McConnell )
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Abby Kirtland started swimming in her backyard pool as a kid. Abby loved being in the water, so her parents decided to sign her up for a competitive swim team when she was 11. Now, a few years later, Abby is turning in some of the best times of her life as a senior for the North Haven girls’ swimming and diving squad.
“I always liked splashing around in the water, so my parents thought I should swim,” says Abby. “It was a big jump [joining a team], but I’m really happy I took that leap. I don’t think I could’ve made a better decision.”
Like all swimmers, Abby has to rely on herself when she jumps into the lane for her race. However, Abby gets a big wave of support from her fellow Indians and says there is excellent chemistry on the team.
“It’s nice to be a part of a team. It’s what drives you during practice, because everybody is doing it together. It’s what keeps you going through that grueling set that’s hard to get through,” Abby says. “When you’re in the pool and you look up for a breath and all your teammates are at the end of the lane cheering, coach is screaming for you on the sidelines—to me, that’s the best feeling in the world. Being out there for them is important to me.”
Abby recently posted some quality times in both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke at the SCC Championship. Abby finished with a mark of 1:06.75 in the butterfly and then swam a time of 1:06.59 for the backstroke to help the Indians take third place at the meet. Abby and her teammates are competing at the Class M State Championship this week.
“I ended up peaking at just the right time, which is what every athlete strives for. I hit my peak at the perfect moment for myself and the team. Now, I’m privileged to go represent my school and team at states,” says Abby. “I have the most fun swimming the 100 back. It’s really comfortable to be in, and it’s something I can rely on.”
Head Coach Martha Phelan says that Abby’s performance at SCCs was one of many that displayed the depth on North Haven’s roster. Phelan likes the fact that Abby is not only a hard worker, but also makes sure that everyone is in a good mood on the pool deck.
“It’s people like Abby that have really jelled at the right time. Those smaller points add up, and Abby really came through this postseason,” Coach Phelan says. “The thing I love about Abby is she’s a great, fun-loving kid that brings a lot of humor to the team. She’s very grateful for any contribution she can make.”
Abby had to overcome some adversity after undergoing knee surgery following her junior swim season. Abby was feeling discomfort in her left knee, and was ultimately diagnosed with a partially torn meniscus.
“Something wasn’t right, and I felt it slipping out of place, but I decided to push through the season and do the best I could before getting it fixed in December of last year,” says Abby. “I really tried to push through it, because I wanted to be out there at those big meets for my team.”
As she nears the end of her high school swimming career, Abby is looking forward to competing at the next level. After looking at several schools, Abby has narrowed down her choices.
“It’s extremely exciting and gratifying to see coaches want you to swim for them. They see what you can do, and it makes you feel super great,” Abby says. “I’m excited to keep going with swimming, because I have more to give. I’m between two schools now.”
Abby wants to finish her career at North Haven by helping the team take home a state title. No matter what happens the state meet, Abby feels thankful for the all the opportunities she’s had to succeed as an Indians’ swimmer.
“I attest a big part of my success to my family, my teammates, and Martha. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be,” says Abby. “I’ve been swimming for Martha since I was 11, and she’s always been there to pick me up, push me to my limits, and help me grow as a swimmer and a person. Without her and my teammates, I wouldn’t be in the same place in my career as I am now.”
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