GREEN: Every second is precious in swimming.
Green senior swimmer Kennedy Herbert knows this and so does her coach Mike Lazor.
Herbert and Lazor pay attention to even the minute details in the pool, and it paid off last season with a trip to the Division I state meet in Canton.
But Herbert’s attention to detail exceeds most competitors her age. Not only does the 17-year-old girl set goals in her mind, she jots them down on paper.
Enter the square pocket-sized, laminated goal cards for each month from July through February. Herbert, who loves to be artistic, put together a one-page sheet of goals broken down by month for her events last season. The sheet included different colored pens.
She went to the individual cards this season that have a light-blue water background and feature black numbers and letters precisely written on a white sheet of paper.
“He keeps them in his pocket because I don’t want to get them ruined,” Herbert said with a smile. “I mentally have to prepare for every race. This helps me because I know what I need to be doing at a certain point to reach my goal in February.”
Herbert’s goals this season are to drop time and win a state championship Feb. 22.
“I have not seen a kid break it down like this,” Lazor said in reference to the goal cards. “That was a huge motivating factor for me as a coach to have a swimmer come to me after a parent meeting and say ‘Hey, coach, here is what I want to do from the time we get in the water month-by-month from summer to the end of the season in the winter.’ This just shows to me where her mind is. She really wants to be successful.
“Kennedy is the type of person who really sees challenges as an opportunity to go fast. Everyday in the water, she not only has goals for every month, but she has goals for every practice. She really thinks about her races. That is to her advantage. She breaks down the races, and it helps her go fast. When she gets on the block, she likes that outside lane. She likes to creep up on people who think ‘Where is Herbert at? She is nowhere to be found.’ And then, there she is. She likes to come out of nowhere and surprise people.”
Herbert finished fifth in the state in the 100-yard breast stroke as a junior in a time of one minute and 04.96 seconds. Her goal for the state meet this season in the event is 1:03.00.
“It was definitely a different experience and something I wasn’t used to,” Herbert said of last season’s state meet. “All these people were fast. It was cool to be there because I didn’t see myself as being that fast. To see myself go that fast was pretty cool.”
Herbert owns five Green girls swim records — three individual: the 100 breast stroke (1:04.91), the 100 butterfly (1:03.76) and the 200 individual medley (2:10.39), and two relays: the 200 medley (1:53.67) and the 400 freestyle (3:46.41).
“Kennedy is a great leader for us,” Lazor said. “She leads by example and gives her all. She cares about people. Not only does she want to go fast in the water, but she cares about being a good teammate. She will go over to Lane 1 where more of the developmental swimmers are and she will help them out. She cares about the team as a whole. That speaks a lot about her character.”
Herbert’s February card lists the following goals: 23.00 in the 50 free, 53.80 in the 100 free, 1:03.00 in the 100 breast, 1:03.50 in the 100 back, 1:01.00 in the 100 fly, 2:08.00 in the 200 IM, 2:00.00 in the 200 free and 5:23.00 in the 500 free.
“I have worked really, really hard and feel like I belong at state,” Herbert said. “I have improved with the technical things for sure, all the turns and starts and underwater pull outs. Those have all gotten better.”
Herbert, who is 5-foot-4, said she hopes to swim at the University of Akron and become a teacher and coach. She started swimming when she was 10 after competing in softball, soccer, flag football, cheerleading and dance.
“Each sport requires a certain amount of determination,” Herbert said. “Swimming was 10 times harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be pretty easy. It is not. It has made me work a lot harder than I thought it would.”
Herbert said her parents, Terri Kapper and Lenny Herbert, support her swimming and artistic abilities along with her sister, Mackenzie, 16, a sophomore on the dance team at Green, and her brother, Aidan, 9, an elementary student in Green.
Lazor praises his star for being coachable and for giving the goal cards an aquatic feel.
“I feel like I am underwater,” Lazor joked. “Kennedy is so artistic. She designed our spirit wear this year. She designed the Bulldog on the front. Our swimmers walk around with Bulldog hoodies and swimming T-shirts. She has that God-given talent.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.