Monday Spotlight: Swimming her way to the top

Chelsey Jones, 12, Aylor Middle School student Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – A local middle school girl is making her mark in the swimming world, beating out more experienced swimmers.

Chelsey Jones, 12, of Stephens City, will be competing in the Virginia state swimming meet March 9-12.

Chelsey, a sixth grader at Robert E. Aylor Middle School, has been swimming since she was a baby during Mommy and Me classes and has been competing competitively since she was 5 years old. She will be the only swimmer from the school to compete in the March swim meet.

“I’ve known how to swim for a long time,” she said. “Swimming will always be my sport for life.”

She said that during the Virginia State swim meet swimmers try to place in the Top 8 in their age bracket, earning a medal if they do. Chelsey said she placed in the Top 8 and earned a medal when she was 10, and when she was 9 she swam in the 500 Free.

Chelsey competes in all swimming events, but said she prefers long-distance swimming. Some of her best events are in the 200 Fly, 200 and 500 Free and 400 Individual Medley.

“I have a lot of stamina and I’m good at building up my speed,” she said on why she prefers long distance.

Chelsey also races against older kids, including high school students. She said her times are often the same or better than varsity swimmers.

For example, she said her 500 Free time is faster than the high school student who is seated first for Sherando High School in that event.

“I’m pretty fast for my age so I can race against the older people,” she said.

To prepare for competitions, she said she swims every day, either at 4:30 in the morning or after school with the Valley Swim Team Phoenix in Strasburg for an hour and a half. She said she prefers training in the morning because there are fewer people at the pool and it allows for more time spent with her coach.

College swimming is in her future, but she has loftier ambitions for her future.

“I hopefully want to go to the Olympics one day,” she said.

Kathleen “Katie” Ledecky, an Olympic swimmer and five-time gold medalist, has been a role model for Chelsey.

In addition to her swimming commitments, Chelsey also spends one day a week dancing jazz.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com