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The Signal's Co-Female Athlete of the Year: Saugus' Abbey Weitzeil

Posted: July 7, 2013 8:28 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2013 8:28 p.m.
Saugus sophomores Abbey Weitzeil, left, and Samantha Ortega are re-writing the record books at the school and succeeding at the highest levels of their sports. Saugus sophomores Abbey Weitzeil, left, and Samantha Ortega are re-writing the record books at the school and succeeding at the highest levels of their sports.
Saugus sophomores Abbey Weitzeil, left, and Samantha Ortega are re-writing the record books at the school and succeeding at the highest levels of their sports.

Abbey Weitzeil had a lot to live up to during her sophomore campaign at Saugus High School.

During her freshman season, she may have been well known before she ever hit the high school water, but there was still a level of unfamiliarity — just how good would she be?

She didn’t disappoint, dominating the league, winning two Foothill League titles and two CIF-Southern Section Division I crowns.

Could she possibly live up to that this season?

The answer was a resounding yes.

Weitzeil picked up right where she left off last season, winning two more league crowns to up her career total to 4-0 in Foothill League championship individual races.

She did the same at CIF-SS Division I finals, winning two more titles in nationally significant times.

All the while she was preparing for USA Swimming World Championship trials, where she competed in June.

With a new head coach at Canyons Aquatics Club, where Weitzeil and many of the Foothill League’s elite swimmers do most of their training, Weitzeil was also adapting to new direction.

Training was significantly different this season, but that only worked to her benefit.

The sophomore is known by those closest to her as a constant worker, striving to improve, but always humble in both victory and defeat — even if defeats are increasingly rare.

Dominant as a freshman, it’s fair to say Weitzeil was significantly better as a sophomore.

The competition was intense for The Signal’s Female Athlete of the Year award, but no matter the argument, it was impossible to ignore the accomplishment’s of Weitzeil.

And for that, Weitzeil is The Signal’s choice for Co-Female Athlete of the Year.

Now, we’ll let those who watched her day in and day out describe what makes the Saugus sophomore so great.

Michelle Weitzeil
Abbey’s mother

Back when she first started swimming recreationally when we lived up north, she moved on to a different team for a short period and it was way more advanced than she ever expected and quickly decided it wasn’t for her. That coach saw something in her and told her, “Abbey, if you change your mind, I’m here.” He had a long talk with her on a Friday afternoon and by Monday she had everything he told her he saw in her to ponder. And by the following Monday, she was back at that practice, even though she said she was done.

That was the first push. The first time that a coach really just told her straight forward, “I believe in you, and I believe you can do really great things in the pool.”

She had the support and that belief from a coach that fed her drive. “I believe in myself more now, and I can do this even though it’s hard.” Then the successes come and it bounces off each other. The more she achieves, the more she believes in herself.

It’s overwhelming, in a great way, of course. I don’t know if we ever expected (this much success) — we really didn’t — but to see your kid’s name among those of Olympians is quite the honor and quite extraordinary and makes you really happy.

I have no idea (what’s to come), I really don’t. She has gone beyond what I ever even thought possible or probable. We never have followed swim before. Her older sister swam high school, but we just haven’t really followed the sport, so it’s been a lot for us to learn — there’s so much. For us to predict or to guess, we just don’t know. We’re just along for the ride. It’s been the coaches that have had us believe what she’s capable of.

Vicky Donnelly
Saugus swim head coach

Iabsolutely believe that when she knows that people believe that she can do something or challenge her to do something, she really uses that to fuel her fire and get her motivated. But really she is her own source of motivation, she’s her hardest critic.

When she sets herself up with a goal, I tend to believe she’s going to achieve it. When she made a goal of swimming Olympic Trials and World Trials, those goals are completely attainable for her. She’s made huge leaps and bounds in the past couple years.

I honestly believe she really enjoys swimming. She’s had a great couple years and experienced a lot of really high highs.

I always tell people if you don’t really love the sport of swimming it’s probably one of the most difficult sports to do. It’s completely time consuming. It takes up your days. It takes up your weekends. No one quite understands how much you put into it day in and day out.

I think she’ll continue to see the same success she’s had in high school the next two years. I hope she does. I think the goal, ultimately, is to be able to get a good college education out of what she’s dedicated so much time to. That will be a huge part of it, the opportunity to go to a great university and then you’ve got Rio in 2016 — I know that’s definitely a goal for her. The sights are on going to trials.

When you look at the Santa Clarita Valley as a whole and the swimming community, you see very few people here that leave that sort of legacy. I think she’ll be there with (Hart graduate and Olympic Gold medalist) Anthony Ervin and the Bob Hwangs (Valencia graduate and UC Santa Barbara swimmer) of the world. All those kids that have really had great success.

Tara Olson
Saugus senior swimmer

She’s always been a really hard worker in everything that she does, and I think that definitely everything she does, she puts 100 percent into it and it really has shown over the last two years.

She always has a smile on her face. If she’s in pain, she’s always really good at hiding it and keeps a smile on her face during practice and everything that may be painful.

If she ever has a bad race she learns from it and she’ll take the bad things from it and grow off of it and try to fix it for the next one. I think that’s something us older swimmers can take from her and try to do ourselves.

Even before she entered high school, her name was already out there in the SCV and what she’s done the past two years, she’s grown so much. She’s become greater than anything any of us ever thought that she could.

Having someone like her definitely draws light to our team and I think that it makes us excited to swim fast and be better so we can get better and compete with (other programs) and be like the other teams that get more of the attention.

I don’t even think I can say what she’s going to do (next), but she’s done some pretty crazy things.

She’s humble about swimming, but she’s always smiling and always laughing and is a really great person to be around.


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