A Day in the Life of an SPHS Swimmer


Adam Bardouni

Elly Brackin at the 2021 City Championship

Elly Brackin is a varsity swimmer on the St. Petersburg High School Swim and Dive Team. As well as swimming for St. Pete High during the school season, Elly is also on the year-round club team at St. Pete Aquatics at Northshore. Elly swims the 100 breaststroke and the 200 IM. Her current best for the breaststroke is 1:11, which has prominently improved throughout her high school swim career. Elly also swims a 2:15 for the 200 IM and has placed as a three-time champion for the school. As well as competing on two swim teams, she is also a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program. Swimming has become a big part of Elly’s life. This sport has changed her social, academic, and personal lives in many ways.

Elly started swimming while growing up in Texas and swam with a team for two years in Germany. Following this, she moved to St. Petersburg and joined the St. Pete Aquatics team at Northshore Pool. Her initial motivation in participating in this sport was her mom. Elly’s mom is a high-level swim coach for the Olympics and many other college teams, such as Northwestern University in Iowa, Auburn University in Alabama, and the University of Texas at Austin. Elly describes how “[Her mom] got [her] into swimming later than [she] would have wanted” since she didn’t get serious about swimming until moving to St. Petersburg in 2018. One of Elly’s most important inspirations for swimming is her mom because “she has been the biggest person that has been there with [Elly] through all of her meets.” Elly receives coaching advice and support from her mom. 

From September to November, Elly splits her time between the school team and the club team. Balancing these two swim teams, as well as making time for studying and hanging out with friends can be difficult at times. Club swim practices on Monday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, and Monday-Friday afternoons. Because of the overlap between the school and club practices, Elly practices with her club team during the week. Swim meets during the school season are normally once a week on a Wednesday or a Thursday. When asked about how she manages to have a personal life while spending copious amounts of time at the pool, Elly said that “it has taken [her] some time to get used to it and to figure out the best way to balance it.” She explains that “a lot of [her] friendships come from swimming, which has made it easier to find time to hang out with people.” She also appreciates her friends from outside of swim who understand the dedication that is required for her team. Studying in the SPHS IB program and keeping up with swim practices has been a difficult process to adapt to for Elly. To keep up with school, “there have been times where [Elly has] had to go to practice late or not go at all because [she] needs to prioritize school.” She makes time to study after swim practice and during available periods at school. 

Having grown up with swimming, there have been many memories throughout her life that stood out. A favorite memory of Elly’s is from a 24-hour charity meet that she participated in with her team in Germany. This meet was a “super fun” experience where swimmers got to “swim as many laps as they can” and raise money with each lap. A recent memory from swimming that appreciates is from the city meet in the last high school season. Elly swam the 200 medleys with her relay team, Molly Gerrard, Alex Pope, and Maggie Johnson. They had gone into this meet with hopes of beating the school record and they successfully surpassed the record by two seconds. Elly describes “the moment when they all got out of the pool and saw the time” as one of her favorite moments. Elly was also an attendee of the Golden Goggles Olympic award event this past year. Elly and her mom were invited to attend this event with Dave Durden, a men’s head swimming coach. At this event, Elly was able to meet many of her inspirations as a swimmer, like Lilly King and Lydia Jacoby. Elly has the hopes of pursuing a career in the future that relates to Olympic coaching, similar to her mom. Elly is thankful for her coaches, Coach Don and Coach Grant, and her team captains. This sport has taught her many lessons about time management and staying motivated that have been useful in other aspects of her life.