Mouths have dropped almost as much as times have dropped. How much farther they both fall remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: Elyse Waldow has arrived.
A sophomore for the Wadsworth girls swimming team, Waldow will head to the Northwest Division I District hoping to burst onto the state scene.
It’s an idea that isn’t farfetched at all given the year she’s had.
“I am blown away at how good she is,” teammate Hannah Berlin said. “It’s hard work, it’s effort, it’s determination. She’s got the best work ethic of anyone. She’s doing really well.
“I’m going to be completely blunt here. She probably pulls out the best 100 time of all of us in the 400 (freestyle relay) and her breaststroke is one the best splits at competition level. It’s insane. I’m a junior, but her senior year, I want to come back for districts just to see how much she’s improved.”
Waldow has improved, she finished her freshman season with the fastest time for the Grizzlies in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:11.43. Last weekend, she won the Lakewood Sectional in a Medina County-record 1:04.97.
That she’s dropped almost seven seconds in a season is a testament to her year-round dedication.
When the season is over, she takes what Wadsworth coach Allison Pallija has taught her and joins the Copley Water Warriors to work with former Grizzlies coach Liz Hastings.
“I’m definitely surprised at how much my times dropped,” Waldow said. “I think it’s crazy that I’ve gotten those times. I’m so excited. I started swimming the entire year. I don’t take the summer off. I think the trick is to keep swimming and not stop swimming.
“Coach Liz started to focus in on my stroke and technique instead of the yardage and started to give me individual attention at the end of practices. She always knew I had it in me. Coach (Pallija) has helped a lot. She always tells me to do breaststroke drills and focus on that.”
If having two dedicated coaches isn’t enough, Waldow can turn to her father Verne for advice as well, as the 1989 Wadsworth graduate once held the school record in the breaststroke.
“I wouldn’t put it all on genetics, but my dad did breaststroke here,” Waldow said. “I always had a natural tendency to do it. I just love it. It’s so cool that he had the record and then I got the record.
“He says I’m better than he ever was. He loves to look at my stroke. He always videotapes it so we can go over the races when I’m done. It’s nice to know he understands exactly what’s going on. He’s always there watching.”
Verne Waldow isn’t just there watching, he’s also critiquing. That support isn’t lost on his daughter, who has hours of tape to fall back on.
“It lets her see it from that other side, to be able to rewind it and pause it and look here and look there,” Pallija said. “To have the supportive family at home to be proud is important. I know they’re supportive. We’re proud of what she’s accomplished so far and what she will accomplish.”
A three-event district qualifier last season, Waldow returns to Cooper Pool this weekend with the second-fastest time in the breaststroke. That gives her a great shot at reaching state.
She also has qualified in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay and has the fastest time for the Grizzlies in the 200 individual medley (2:25.03) and 100 free (1:04.97).
“I’m extremely nervous, but I’m also extremely excited,” Waldow said. “I think I have a great shot at making it to state. I just can’t wait for this weekend.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.