What started out as swimming lessons when she was about nine years old turned into a love for the sport and a successful high school run for St. John Paul II senior swimming captain Sophie Bailey.
“My mom made me do some lessons, but I didn’t want to,” Sophie explained. “She just said, ‘You have to do it, just learn the strokes, and then you can stop. I just want you to be confident in the water.’”
Once she began to take lessons, she soon switched over to more advanced lessons at the Cape Cod Swim Club out of Mass Maritime Academy.
“I got to the point where they were actually thinking of moving me up to the swim team there, so I thought, ‘Why not? I like swimming,’” she said. “I guess I stumbled into it, and I began loving it and did it for six years.”
“They really don’t let you specialize when you’re that young,” she said. “Now, I’m comfortable with swimming all of the strokes, and that comes in handy when you have a small team like we do.”
She recalled qualifying for the sectionals in the 200 freestyle as an eighth grader, realizing she was one of the youngest swimmers in the competition.
“I was really excited to be there, but it was very scary at the same time,” she said.
Sophie uses that experience as a senior captain, especially when dealing with younger teammates on the squad.
“I try to explain to them that we’re not always worried about winning. I try to reinforce that point with the younger kids, especially when they’re nervous,” she said. “It’s not always about winning or losing. It doesn’t matter if you touch the wall first. Just finish the race, and everyone will be proud of you.”
One of the turning points of her career came between her freshman and sophomore year, when she was forced to leave the Cape Cod Swim Club due to her rigorous academic load.
Sophie had just enrolled in several Advanced Placement classes and realized the importance of setting academic priorities.
“I loved Cape Cod Swim Club and wished I could have stayed with it, but it was just too much time with school, and we were practicing six days a week, year-round,” she said. “The fact that I had high school swim team, was nice to fall back on.”
Those academic choices will nicely follow her next year when she moves on to college and hopes to become a Political Science major with a possible minor in Spanish.
20 Questions with Sophie Bailey, St. John Paul II swimmer
1. Favorite subject: History/Spanish
2. Favorite book: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
3. Favorite food: dumplings
4. Favorite movie: “Lady Bird”
5. Favorite TV show: “Gilmore Girls”
6. Favorite Cape restaurant: Marshland in Sandwich
7. Favorite Cape hangout: Craigville Beach
8. Favorite sports team: New England Patriots
9. Favorite athlete: Olivia Smoliga
10. Favorite ‘pump-up” music: Kendrick Lamar
11. Best advice I’ve received: My dad tells me every morning, “honesty, respect, hard work,” which are our three family values.
12. Person I’d most like to meet: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
13. Hobbies and interests: Speaking Spanish
14. Own greatest sports moment: Making sectionals in the 200 freestyle as an eighth grader
15. Most inspirational person: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
16. Pregame rituals / superstitions: Once the race right before me starts, I can’t talk to anyone so I can get zoned in and focus on my race.
17. Bucket list place to visit: Germany
18. Biggest sports setback or obstacle: I quit my club swim team in between freshman and sophomore year, so the high school swim season was a lot more difficult for me without the year-round training.
20. Advice to young athletes: Get enough sleep!
Know someone who’d be a great candidate for the Barnstable Patriot’s 20 Questions feature? Email Mike Richard at: firstname.lastname@example.org. SOURCED