One good thing about being a high school freshman is that everyone is new at the same time. Making friends and finding a place to fit in is part of the freshman experience. Part of that process includes making connections through conversations. So, one of the most often used icebreakers of the newbies is asking where they went to middle school.
It is not the question Columbus High School freshman and competition swimmer Victoria Abeyta really enjoys being asked.
“Because I was homeschooled, I don’t like to answer that because then I get, ‘Oh, you are one of those people who don’t know how to socialize.’ But, I also know being homeschooled helps me to stand out, and I like that,” says Abeyta, smiling.
Standing out is not difficult for the 5-foot-9-inch swim athlete who currently swims for the CHS Blue Devils as well as for the Columbus Hurricanes Swim Club. Her height and lean build are attributes that play in her favor when she takes to the water. Her warm and friendly personality plays in her favor out of the pool.
Although she knows most of the stereotypical ideas about students who are homeschooled, Abeyta doesn’t try to hide from her academic experience prior to attending Columbus High. She was homeschooled by her mother from the second grade until she reached the high school level. Her older brother, Jacob, was also homeschooled, and currently attends Northside High School.
Their mother is quick to share homeschooling their children wasn’t something she and her husband planned on; it just sort of happened. Because the Abeyta siblings did well with the home study program and it fit in with the family’s lifestyle, it was continued until Jacob and Victoria reached high school level. The Abeytas included the Veritas Classical School program in their children’s education and also encouraged them to participate in sports.
Victoria Abeyta, known as Tori to her friends, learned to swim when she was about 4 years old. She joined the Hurricanes swim program at age 7, mainly because her brother was a member of the swim club. Swimming was already a part of her life before she began homeschooling, and it was a form of socialization during those years. She also played soccer for a number of years and tried her hand at both volleyball and basketball, but swimming is the sport she truly loves.
Always tall for her age, Abeyta is proficient at the butterfly stroke as well as the breaststroke and freestyle. Her long limbs and torso help her move efficiently through the water almost as if smoothing the way so that her strokes are graceful and clean.
“My Hurricanes coach has been working with me about using my body length,” she says. “He says I have been growing into it, and I am learning how to use it to reach my goals.”
Her fastest time in the 200-meter butterfly event to date had been 2:20. Part of her plan this season is become even faster. If she doesn’t, it certainly won’t be for lack of time in the water. Swimming for two teams in two different programs means a lot of time at the pool. Some mornings, she is at a swim facility practicing for a couple of hours before the start of school. Then, she has back-to-back swim practices in the evenings, starting first with the Hurricanes and moving on to swim with her Columbus High teammates later.
She has been looking forward to swimming with the Blue Devils since the start of school. Abeyta has been friends with several swimmers in the Columbus High program through their association in the Hurricanes. Although she did not elect to attend CHS because of the reputation of the school’s swim program under the direction of Coach Karen Waters, she certainly considers it one of the perks.
Abeyta hopes to gain experience in Coach Waters’ program for her first year as a Blue Devil swimmer. She is all about improving her swim performances, which she would like to ramp up to possibly become a collegiate swim athlete down the road or participate in an intramural program while she pursues a degree in journalism.
Her dedication to the sport of swimming is an investment Abeyta feels has already paid great dividends and might just continue to do so for most of her life.
“Swimming is unique in that it is a team sport, but also an individual sport, she says. “I am striving to help my team and also competing against myself. Swimming is also something I can do practically forever, and there aren’t many sports that you can say that about.”
Columbus Valley/Freshman Focus/December 2015
Columbus High School
By Beth Welch
Photos by Jerry Christenson
Columbus High athlete finds her lane