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Saugus' Abbey Weitzeil: Scene stealer

Though only a freshman, Weitzeil is the talk of the Foothill landscape

Posted: March 19, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 19, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus freshman Abbey Weitzeil qualified for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 57.14 seconds at the USA Swimming Junior National Championships last August.

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Abbey Weitzeil is fast.

Really fast.

And she has quickly become the talk of the Foothill League.

The 15-year old Saugus freshman swimmer began her high school swim career this season, and even before she makes her first league appearance for the Centurions, she’ll be anything but a secret weapon.

Weitzeil qualified for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in the 100-meter freestyle after swimming in 57.14 seconds at the junior national championships.

She’ll travel to Omaha, Neb., from June 25 to July 2 to compete against some of the country’s best swimmers.

“I do feel that I’m one of the lucky people that get to live their dream and start so young,” she says. “Most people work so hard for years and years to get close to their dream, and I just started and I’m already half way there. I’m really very, very happy.”

And the scary part?

She’s only been swimming at a competitive level for three years.

Weitzeil lived in Santa Clarita before moving to Elk Grove, a suburb outside Sacramento, when she was 6 years old.

She had two sisters who swam for Elk Grove High, but Weitzeil spent her years swimming at the recreational level, rather than club.

But after moving back to Santa Clarita when she was 12, she joined Canyons Aquatic swim club and has been on a fast track of success that led her to her Olympic trials qualification performance last summer.

“It was like no other proud mom moment I had experienced,” says her mom Michelle Weitzeil. “There’s plenty with three amazing beautiful girls, we’ve been blessed with a lot of proud moments. But this is something not a lot of people experience ... to witness someone who I love so much accomplish such a goal was phenomenal.”

Just don’t expect Abbey to brag about it.

“This has all happened quickly for her,” says Saugus head coach Vicky Donnelly. “It’s great to see it happen to someone who has no idea. She’s just that way. She’s not going to be the person to come up and tell you ‘Yep, I made it to Olympic trials,’ and she actually prefers to fly under the radar.”

Unfortunately, that’s not much of an option anymore.

In the CIF-Southern Section Division I Foothill League, it’s not often the valley’s best swimmer is so young.

And in a league so often dominated by Hart High, it’s not often that the valley’s best swimmer doesn’t swim for the Indians.

But this year, the majority of Foothill League coaches agree, Weitzeil will likely be the valley’s most outstanding swimmer.

“She’s just so dominant,” says Valencia head coach Mike Bechtholdt, who has previously coached Weitzeil at the Canyons Aquatic swim club. “If Saugus had three swimmers that were one second slower than us in the (50-yard) freestyle, Abbey can make up the margin. She turns the good swimmers on her team into great swimmers and the mediocre swimmers into good swimmers, especially on the relays. And she can swim probably any event and probably win it.”

For someone so young, it might be easy to slip up at times, easy to forego waking up at 4:45 a.m. to attend swim practice in favor of sleep or time with friends.

But Weitzeil is determined.

“What makes you different and what makes you succeed,” she says, “ is you have in your head that this is for a reason.”
That reason is Olympic trials.

While she hopes to succeed at Saugus, there is no doubt that her No. 1 priority is preparing for this summer.

“We’re really excited, we’re doing everything we can to try to prepare for that,” Michelle Weitzeil says. “It’s pretty much what this year is centered around with our planning and our goals.”

But first, Weitzeil will be swimming for the Centurions, who have set out to best Valencia and finish second in league.

Weitzeil doesn’t know for sure which events she’ll be swimming for the high school squad, but in the preseason she has already set school records in the 100-and 50-yard freestyle races, and as a member of the 200-yard medley relay team.

Her 50-yard free time of 24.10 broke a 28-year-old record by 0.5 seconds.

And her 53.05 100-yard free isn’t even her fastest time.

According to Donnelly, Weitzeil can swim a 100-yard free in 49.73 seconds. The current Foothill League record in the event is 51.83.

But her success hasn’t come without sacrifice.

Weitzeil has to be in the pool by 5:15 a.m. three times a week.

And after school, it’s right back to the pool for more practice.

Free time is hard to come by, but there’s no where else she’d rather be than in the pool.

“You have to sacrifice a lot,” Weitzeil says. “It would be (hard if you didn’t love swimming). You have to love the sport a lot to be able to take all of that time to work toward a goal. That’s like any sport, though. If you’re going into a high level, you have to love the sport because you have to sacrifice so much time with family and friends. But it’s all a great journey. You meet so many great people who have the same interest as you. It’s a great experience to have succeeded in a sport at this level.”

And as Weitzeil continues to flourish in swimming, the sacrifices aren’t over.

But neither are the successes.

Because Abbey Weitzeil is fast. Really fast.

And she’s set to take the Foothill League by storm.

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