Courtney Chapin’s world away from the swimming pool was a wreck.
Looming SAT and ACT testing for college placement weighed heavily. The college swimming recruiting trail gnawed at her, too.
The stress was so great that Chapin’s performance at the 2015 Florida High School Athletic Association state swim meet could, understandably, be underwhelming. But the Lakewood Ranch High School’s swimming star excelled at Stuart’s Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, finishing runner-up in the 100 backstroke.
A year later, outside forces aren’t in play for Chapin as she prepares for an encore in her best event at the Class 4A state meet on Saturday.
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“It was definitely a battle, but I think now I have everything under control so I’m good with the way things are going right now,” Chapin said.
Chapin’s recruitment ended when she orally committed to Ohio University earlier this fall, and she’s settled into a groove with her new club team, the Sarasota Sharks.
Chapin, a senior, began her club career with the Lakewood Ranch Wave Runners, which later changed their name to the BlackFins. But her move to the Sharks started when a pump in the pool at the Lakewood Ranch club’s facility, the YMCA, broke down in December.
So Chapin traveled south to train and Bruce Patmos, the competitive director for the Venice YMCA, provided solid instruction.
“All the advice I was given, it was just so much to take in,” Chapin said. “Just the amount of advice I had gotten after two or three races, I was like, ‘That’s where I want to be.’”
It wasn’t the first time a little bad news turned into something good for Chapin.
When she was in the seventh grade, Chapin dislocated her shoulder in a youth event on a start off the blocks. After getting back into the pool, Chapin was hesitant performing the butterfly stroke she was doing regularly, so she switched to the backstroke. It’s been her best stroke ever since, and it keyed her recruitment to Ohio University.
“I like to breathe the whole time,” Chapin said. “... I think it called me. I don’t think I really called it.”
That shoulder injury paid two dividends. Not only did she gravitate toward a different event, but Chapin kept getting the shoulder checked in the years that followed. And two years ago, the shoulder injury suffered when she was in middle school yielded a different medical diagnosis: She had scoliosis, which is the curvature of the spine.
Consequently, Chapin heads to a Lakewood Ranch chiropractor to get an adjustment before every big meet.
That includes this weekend’s 4A finals, in which she’s competing in the 100 backstroke, the 50 freestyle, the 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay alongside teammates Emily Loefgren, Keely Radloff and Katelynn Coons.
To prep for it, Chapin has worked on her turns at the Venice YMCA this week to improve on her 56.62 time from the 100 backstroke event at last week’s 4A-Region 2 meet.
“I’ve made it a bad habit,” Chapin said. “Warming up, I’m just going into the walls nice and smooth. I think the more that I practice going into the wall quicker, the better it will be by race time.”
Where: Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, Stuart
When: Class 3A, Friday; Class 4A, Saturday, finals start at 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $9 per session, $5 for parking and $25 for a deck pass
Qualifiers: Lakewood Ranch (4A) Heaven Bazo, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle; Emily Loefgren, 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke; Courtney Chapin, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke; Sebastian Aguirre, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke; Haille Bogumil, 100 freestyle. Manatee (4A) Jesse Martin, diving. Braden River (3A) Kate Walker, 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke; Palmetto (3A) Connor Valenti, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle.