CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock head coach Derek McCormick said it’s not even close. When senior Shelby Kell leaves the Royals’ swim program, she will “by far” be the fastest female swimmer in the program’s history.
As the owner of 10 school records, Kell will leave Eastern Hancock as the top finisher in every swim event besides the 100-yard breaststroke, including all three relays.
And she’s swimming even faster this season.
“(Shelby) has refined her energy toward practices and is swimming faster than she did all of last year, even after the sectional,” McCormick said. “She has been a tremendous leader for the team, as we are very young and small. She isn’t done yet, and we are hoping we can finish her senior season off with a bang.”
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At the New Palestine sectional last season, Kell placed eighth in the 50-yard freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle. She also swam on the 200 freestyle relay team, which finished in sixth, and the 200 medley relay team, which was eighth.
After this postseason, though, Kell won’t be finished with the sport. She will attend Manchester University in the fall to further her education and swim career.
The Daily Reporter caught up with Kell to talk about the Royals’ program and her four years at the school.
DR: How did you get started in swimming, and when did you join the school’s program?
SK: When I was little we moved to Eastern Hancock in second grade. I always kind of wanted to be on a swim team, but Eastern Hancock didn’t have a team or club or anything. I had to wait until sixth grade (when Eastern Hancock got a team). I kind of wanted to quit every year of middle school. I always told myself it would be my last year. I just stuck with it, and now, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I just love it.
DR: How has your head coach, Derek McCormick, who swam at Greenfield-Central, helped shape you into the swimmer you are now?
SK: My sophomore year is when coach McCormick showed up. He completely changed the program. All the coaches at Eastern Hancock have been amazing. Most have coached because they had a kid on the team, though. Coach McCormick knows what he’s doing. He knows how to push us and make us better. He just does it, because he loves coaching. He loves seeing us improve and loves the sport itself.
DR: What was the program like when you were a freshman, compared to now?
SK: My freshman year if you didn’t go to practice, there really was no punishment. Sophomore year, when coach McCormick came, it was just completely different. We are at practice every day now and have morning practices every day. We push ourselves, because we realize we can do something in swimming. We have the grit to work. Freshman year, it didn’t really matter. We are a family now and cheer each other on at practice.
DR: With 10 school records, you will leave as the most decorated swimmer at the school. What does that mean to you, especially after you wanted to quit in junior high?
SK: I am very proud of my achievements. I worked for them and pushed myself so hard to get them. I look at myself as kind of the foundation for the Eastern Hancock swim team. We are recruiting so many junior high girls. I encourage people to get those records. Go out and get my records, there are freshman I encourage every day. I might lose those records because someone becomes faster, but I think of that as a good thing. That means our swim program is getting faster.
DR: What are some of your goals entering the postseason this time?
SK: I just want to push myself. We are kind of changing it up this year at the sectional, so I am excited to see what I can do. I want to go all out and make sure I leave nothing behind. It is my senior year, I don’t want to regret anything. I like the 50-yard freestyle the best. It’s quick, short and sweet, and I can get it over with. My best event, though, would probably be the 500-yard freestyle.
DR: How did you decide to attend Manchester?
SK: I want to major in Bio Chemistry and that isn’t offered everywhere. Since I go to Eastern Hancock, I wanted to stay in the small-school setting. Manchester offers Bio Chemistry and seems sort of what I’m used to. I visited there, and it just felt right. Their swim program is also relatively new. I am ready for that challenge and to help build their program also. I will be getting an academic scholarship.
Shelby Kell, Eastern Hancock
College: Manchester University for swimming and bio chemistry
Parents: Kris Kell, father; Toni Kell, mother
200 medley relay: 2:11.71
200 free: 2:11.33
200 IM: 2:35.17
50 free: 26.35
100 butterfly: 1:10.91
100 free: 58.97
500 free: 5:56.11
200 free relay: 1:53.47
100 backstroke: 1:08.57
400 free relay: 4:15.17