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Boys Swimmer of the Year: Sherando’s Ibrahim has record-breaking senior season

Sherando’s Ayman Ibrahim,The Northern Virginia Daily's 2018 Boys Swimmer of the Year, finished sixth in the 50 freestyle and seventh in the 100 freestyle in the Class 4 state meet this season. Ibrahim also set school records in both events. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY — Ayman Ibrahim saved his best swims for last.

The Sherando senior set two school records and placed in the Top 8 in two events at Class 4 state championships.

Ibrahim said he learned a lot from his experience at the state meet in his junior season.

“It was my second time (at states),” Ibrahim said. “I’ve been there before, same pool. So I wasn’t in awe. I knew what I was doing. Last year I was new to it, but this year I wasn’t scared. This year I knew what I was doing. I had my head in the game. I warmed up as much as I could. I did what I had to do. I was prepared.”

Ibrahim, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2018 Boys Swimmer of the Year, placed seventh in the 100-yard freestyle and sixth in the 50-yard freestyle at the Class 4 state championships.

He also broke the school record in both events by swimming a 22.20 in the 50 free and a 48.15 in the 100 free. The 50 free record was set by Robert Koch in 2000.

“When I first started swimming in eighth grade, I was the worst kid,” Ibrahim said. “I was in the last lane and (I have made) all this progress. I never knew that I would be capable of doing that.”

Ibrahim also qualified for the state meet in the 100 butterfly. Swimmers are only allowed to swim in two individual events at the state meet, and he chose to swim the 50 free and the 100 free.

Ibrahim said that this past offseason was a big key to his success.

Five days a week he would get up at 4 a.m., get ready and head to Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center in Winchester to get in a swimming workout. During the school year, he would do this before going to school.

“When it becomes a daily thing, it’s just a part of me, I guess,” Ibrahim said. “It’s also just a good thing to wake up in the morning and feel like you’ve done something, you’ve gotten something out of the way.”

Ibrahim is only in his second year at Sherando, after spending 10 years in Doha, Qatar. He said that he was born in the U.S. and spent his first six years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

His dad was sent to Doha on a diplomatic mission for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Ibrahim said that he went to the American School of Doha.

“Everything’s different, the culture, people,” Ibrahim said. “The way people talk. The way I used to talk. I used to have a lot more of an Arab accent when I spoke. The religion’s different, the food’s different.”

His family moved to the area in the summer of 2016, when Ibrahim’s father got a job in Winchester.

Ibrahim said swimming for his school in Doha was much different than swimming for Sherando. He said that since Doha was so small they swam against other nearby countries in the Middle East South Asia Conference, and they would only have one meet each season.

“We just practiced for three months prior (to the meet),” Ibrahim said. “We were there for four days in Dubai or New Delhi (for the meet) and we swam for four days. So the experience definitely is a lot better here, because you can see your time. You can see your progress. There it’s just one hit — you hit or miss.”

Ibrahim helped lead the Warriors to a 22nd-place finish in the boys state meet. He was also part of Sherando’s 200 medley relay team, which finished 14th in the state meet, and the 200 free relay team (15th in the state meet).

Sherando coach Joe Knight said that Ibrahim was also a great leader for the Warriors this season.

“He’s quiet when he needs to be, and then he’s a leader when he needs to be,” Knight said. “He’s not one of the loud rah-rah kind of leaders, he’s more quiet. He was just the glue for our team this year, he really was. Both boys and girls they all respect him. They all really like him as an individual and I couldn’t ask more from him in terms of being a leader.”

Ibrahim said he wasn’t sure if he was going to swim on a college team, but said that he knows he will be swimming in some way for a long, long time.

“It’s definitely a part of me,” Ibrahim said of swimming. “It’s definitely made an impact on me and my own just daily routine, my own physical fitness, my own physical health. I do feel like it’s made me a better person, especially being in the leadership position.”