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The La Salle Falconer

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Junior Kayla Chapman Shatters the School Record Back to Back in Swim Districts

Kayah Cieslak
Junior Kayla Chapman stands tall with a medal labeled “Northwest Oregon Conference Champion” after breaking the record for La Salle, not once, but twice.

During the state qualifying district meet at Parkrose High School on Friday, Feb. 9, junior Kayla Chapman achieved a goal that caught even herself off guard. “I looked up at the scoreboard for the first time and … I honestly did not think that was my time,” Chapman said.

With a total of 25.63 seconds, she broke La Salle’s school record for the 50 free event. The next day she proceeded to break her new record with a time of 25.37. While what she accomplished on Friday was not preplanned and rather a result of her best efforts, the pressure to succeed again was evident the next morning, as the adrenaline and pressure kicked in. “I sat in my bed, trying to convince myself not to breathe at all for 50 yards while sprinting,” she said. “But [I] decided not to do that though, and did take one breath.”

And she did exactly that, breaking her previous record from the day before, all before noon.

“I was just trying to sprint as fast as I can, breathe once as fast as I could without inhaling water, and touch the wall,” she said.

For Chapman, swimming has always been competitive, which in the long run has impacted how she views her events from a more ambitious angle. Starting early from the age of six, she swam in Row City Aquatic Club, which later merged into her current swim club, The Dolphins Portland Swimming, where she has been since seven years old.

Learning the muscle memory and comprehending the techniques at such a young age are what helped aid her success, because “if you start young, that’s drilled into you from a young age,” Chapman said. 

She explains that once you’re at the point where you know the fundamental techniques, it allows you to focus on what you need to fix while you’re swimming rather than splitting too much attention on mastering the technique itself.

Kayla Chapman celebrates shattering her time after seeing the numbers displayed on the overhead board.
(Kayah Cieslak )

Chapman began the sport when she was little because of her father, who is a fisheries biologist. “He wanted to take me out on the boat and my mom said I could only go if I learned how to swim,” she said.

Chapman also noted that her father is a major reason behind her motivation to train as much as she does, saying that he encourages her to do weight training and cardio work. “I know it’s just going to help me in the long run, so sometimes he’ll have to push me a little bit more,” she said. “But eventually, I’ll just do it.” On top of that, her coach at TDPS has her team complete strenuous routines like aerobic overloads — a practice where they swim fast for an hour straight to build endurance — which they started at the beginning of January. This especially helped her prepare physically and mentally, making it possible for her to break the school record twice.

She pointed out that the mental aspect plays a significant part in swimming.

“There’s a mental point of if you can psych yourself out for that first 25, you don’t at all feel the need to breathe,” she said.

Having put in the work and training, all that was left for her to do was believe. “If you think you can do it, you have a far better chance of doing it,” Chapman said, including that encouraging yourself is imperative — “otherwise you’re not going to be able to do it.” 

In the future, Chapman is envisioning a future living somewhere in the Northeast. She wants to focus on academics and prioritizing a D3 school, and while she is in the process of being recruited for college swimming, it isn’t a career she plans to pursue professionally.

Other records now in mind are the 100 back, which she is a second to a second and a half away from breaking and the 100 free, where she is two seconds away from the record. Both of these are goals she hopes to accomplish by the end of her senior year.

Next, Chapman will be competing at state on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17, having qualified for the 200 medley relay, 50 free stroke, 100 backstroke, and the 400 free relay.

Kayla Chapman walks away triumphantly with her coat draped over her shoulders after being handed the champion medal during the intermission. (Kayah Cieslak )
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  • B

    BehroozFeb 15, 2024 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Kayla:

    Back-to-back victories in shattering the school record in the swim districts are nothing short of extraordinary. Your dedication, perseverance, and sheer talent have propelled you to the pinnacle of success, and it’s only fitting that we take a moment to celebrate this remarkable feat.

    Grandpa Behrooz