WATERVILLE — One nice thing about swimming for a co-op program is the opportunity to set multiple school records. Leah Shoulta obliged.

The Waterville/Winslow senior was part of five different records between the two schools this winter. In addition, Shoulta finished fourth in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke at the Class A state championship meet.

Waterville’s Leah Shoulta is the Morning Sentinel Girls Swimmer of the Year. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

“It was my best high school season by far, and I’m glad it happened in my last one,” Shoulta said. “It was a great way to go out.”

It certainly was, and it was plenty to earn Shoulta the nod as the Morning Sentinel Girls Swimmer of the Year.

Shoulta goes out as the Waterville record holder in both the IM and the backstroke, and at Winslow she’s a member of the school’s record-setting 400-yard freestyle relay, its 200-yard freestyle relay and its 200-yard medley relay teams.

“I’m so happy that Leah is getting this honor,” Waterville/Winslow coach Justin Giroux said. “Leah has been a wonderful swimmer to coach and an inspiring leader for our team. It’s amazing to see the time drops that she has had over the last few years in order to break the longstanding 100 back and 200 IM records (at Waterville).”

Shoulta was practically born in the water, the stereotypical kid that parents often mistook for a fish.

Already, she’s been swimming competitively for more than 10 years.

“I’ve always liked to be in the water,” Shoulta said. “My parents said that even when I was little, when I was around the pool I’d jump in without any floaties on or anything. By sixth grade, I started junior high swimming and club swimming, and I’ve been with the (Mid-Maine Dolphins) and the YMCA programs ever since.”

Her superb senior season actually began to take shape at the end of her junior year, when she finished just a few seconds shy of setting the Waterville 200 IM mark.

“At our senior meet this year, I demolished it by three seconds, and that sort of jumpstarted championship season for me,” she said. “Most of it is your training and how you pace races, but you get to a certain point in the season — when you get to the KVAC, state, and senior meets, our really big season — where things start to pick up. For me, for most of the girls on our team, you get really excited. You want to swim for them, which really helps you shut your mind off and trust your training.”

Shoulta is narrowing down her college choices and is presently looking at Wheaton College.

For all of her record-setting performances this winter, there’s one she’s most proud of.

“I think it’s definitely my 400 freestyle relay record with that group of girls,” said Shoulta, who swam the event with Ebba Heaton-Jones, Sarah McNeil and Emma Farnham, placing seventh in the state overall. “I was the only senior. I knew they wanted it, I wanted it — and we went out as a group and made it happen. It was really exciting for all of us.

“Even from the outside swimming is mainly an individual sport, but with the relays — there’s something about it when you’re watching the person swimming ahead of you that gets you going. It’s awesome.”

Giroux was not surprised at all to see Shoulta both excel and lead a group of underclassmen to a common goal.

“She worked so hard, swimming long hours every night to achieve this,” Giroux said. “She is a real student of the sport and was easy to coach. I think she has more (time) drops in the works in her college career. I’m excited to hear how her college swim career goes.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.