Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 24, 2013

Swim by Northridge's Brittney Walters is an inspiration


— For student athletes, it’s a textbook example of how to wrap up a high school career in style. For Brittney Walters, it was more than just a personal best.

Simply put, Walters made history in the annals of state swimming competition.

Walters is a senior at Northridge High School. She’d earned a spot in the finals of the 500-yard freestyle earlier this month in Indianapolis. Seeded eighth out of the eight swimmers heading into the event, Walters was a long shot.

Fire away.

“I had a lot of drive and really wanted to win it,” Walters told Goshen News sports writer Greg Keim for an article that appeared on the front page of last Sunday’s newspaper. She got what she wanted.

On Feb. 9, Walters stepped into the pool at the Indiana University Natatorium seeded eighth. She emerged a champion, garnering a state championship with a time of 4:53:49.

Those five distinct digits add up to one, in a sense. Walters is the first Northridge girl to win a state swimming title and the first girl in school history to win an individual state championship. The numbers also tell a story.

It’s a story of determination and drive, of persistence when the odds favor someone else coming out on top. Walters’ win earned her a front-page headline but alludes to a much longer backstory — the unreported hours of practice, out of the limelight.

Factoring heavily into Walters’ story, too, are the coaches who supported her on the road — pool lane, perhaps? — to victory.

“They have always been telling me I could do it,” Walters said. “The helped fill me with confidence.”

To take nothing away from Northridge swim coaches, they’re not unique in this area. Coaches in all fields of sports endeavor offer guidance and support to our young athletes. And those athletes in turn work tirelessly, and even when they’re tired, to do their best whether they are ultimately champions or nearly so.

There’s a reason athletics are given a high profile in local high schools and in the local newspaper. Win/loss statistics only tell part of the story. Work ethic and goal-setting make up the overarching theme. And those attributes will serve our young athletes well long after the high school-era sports accolades fade into memory.

“Times like this are why I’m in coaching,” Northridge swim coach Joe Keller told The News of Walters’ championship-worthy effort. He also said coaches in the future may use Walters as an inspiring example for their swimmers.

“’Hey, remember that Walters girl who won the 500 from lane eight?’,” Keller said.

We think Keller is right. We also think Brittney Walters is an inspiration here and now.