Chandler girl wins big at invitational swim meet SanTan Sun News

Chandler girl wins big at invitational swim meet

March 8th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Chandler girl wins big at invitational swim meet
Sports and Recreation
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SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

When Skylar Debnam’s coach praises her work ethic as a competitive swimmer, it’s no exaggeration.

The 14-year-old Chandler girl wakes up at 3:45 a.m. twice a week so her parents can drive her to the Scottsdale Aquatic Club, a USA Swimming affiliated team, and then get back to BASIS Chandler, where the eighth-grader carries a 3.7 grade point average and is active in the National Honor Society and other activities.

Those early-morning practices are just two of the six two-hour swim sessions she does each week. That’s in addition to two 45-minute workouts in a gym.

All that work paid off last month when Skylar was one of 16 athletes on the Western United States All-Star team in USA Swimming’s 2018 Black History Invitational in Washington, D.C.

The daughter of Brian and LaShun Debnam, Skylar won the 13-14 girl’s 400-yard individual medley; placed second in the 200-yard individual medley and third in the 50-yard and 100-yard as well as the 200-yard backstroke; and placed in the top six on two other events.

She was also a member of three inning and record-setting relay teams and was part of a relay team that finished second in the 200-yard freestyle.

In all, she earned a total of 127 points for her team, capturing second place overall for girls in her age bracket.

USA Swimming selects two all-star-teams annually to compete at the event, which celebrates diversity.  Athletes are selected on the basis of 2017 performances.

“This is the most competitive selection process we have ever had,” said Jeremiah Stanton, who heads the selection committee for the West, “It is difficult to select just 16 athletes when there are 28 events. Those selected are our most well-rounded and talented swimmers.”

Skylar has been in and around swimming pools since she was 1.

“During her bath, she was the happiest kid,” her father recalled. “She absolutely loved the water. However, as soon as bath time was done and we removed her from the bath, she would cry her little eyes out.”

So, the Debnams enrolled their daughter in the Gold Medal Swim School.

“There also was a water safety component as well,” Brian Debnam said. “We knew that we’d one day own a swimming pool at our home. So, in the interest of reducing the risk of drowning, we believed that swim lessons were very important for her and our future children.”

He said he’s not sure why Skylar has been so taken with swimming, but knows it’s not genetic.

“Neither of us have ever been competitive swimmers,” he said of himself and his wife. “I personally was a football, track and field and baseball guy while my wife was in the high school marching band. So, no previous connection to swimming.”

Skylar began racing at USAS meets just two and a half years ago, when she joined the Scottsdale Aquatic Club.  USA Swimming boasts more than 400,000 members.

At SAC, she swims in the pre-national group with coach Laurel Hill.

Last summer, Skylar earned her first sectional championship qualifying time in the 50-meter freestyle.

But her coach noted, “Skylar has proven to be versatile in all strokes. This is due to her tremendous work ethic and motivation to get better every day.  She has a natural feel for the water and really enjoys what she’s doing.”

Her father said that even with all the accomplishments she’s achieved so far in her young life, “one of her proudest roles is being an inspiration to her younger sister Saylor,” who at 9 already looks like she will be “a swimmer to watch for in the coming years.”

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