Every time she suits up and dives in the swimming pool, Melinda Hart is redefining herself.
She can’t help it. The 14year-old Hart is somewhere between a sprinter and a long distance swimmer. Her best days, her best events and her most prolific meets are ahead of her.
Hart is not there yet, but the Troup County Sharks swimmer is closing fast.
“If you don’t train you won’t make a difference,” said Hart.
So she trains four days a week. If she were to miss a practice she would feel guilty. Hart was present and fast during Wednesday’s Sharks workout at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center.
She felt no guilt, but a lot of burning in her arms and legs due to the hard workout.
“I have a lot of room to improve, but I’m pretty good. I have a love for this. You have got to have muscle and power through the water. Swimming is fun for me, and I want to keep dropping time,” said Hart.
The teenage talent is totally honest with herself. Hart knows where she is in her swimming development. She recognizes her pluses, her minuses and her times.
“I have a strong kick, and I have some mental toughness,” said Hart.
She also has some improving marks, but not yet great times. But the girl is cutting seconds, and that is what the bullish workouts are doing for her.
Hart has been timed at 28.7 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. She has a top mark of 1:01.07 in the 100 freestyle. Hart has also been clocked at 1:12 in the 100-yard backstroke.
Her personal best in the 100-yard butterfly is 1:14. And Hart’s new favorite event, the 200 backstroke, has seen her splash her way to a time of 2:34.
Hart’s coach is impressed, and he is looking for more dedication and better times from her in the near future. Hart has been a Sharks swimmer for one year. She has come a long way in 12 months.
“Melinda didn’t know what it took (at first), but she knows now. She is getting faster. She is taking charge. She comes to practice. She takes the pain, and she is biting the bullet,” said William Yin, the head coach of the Sharks senior team.
Hart is getting a feel for USA level swimming.
“She is catching the water better (in the pool). She has strong legs, and she is a good teammate. But Melinda has to keep working,” said Yin.
The coach is spoon feeding Hart the knowledge necessary to be successful at every Sharks practice, Monday through Thursday.
“With swimming you’re putting a theory to work. It is mental awareness. Swimming is about arms and legs. You have to drive your body (through the water),” said Yin.
Melinda Hart is starting to do that. She is getting “it.”
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer