Many student athletes can feel torn between their academic and athletic commitments. Not so for Reilly Lanigan, a junior at Lake Forest High School and a National-level swimmer with her eye on Olympic trials, who thinks success in the classroom and the pool go hand-in-hand.
“Swimming teaches life lessons,” says Lanigan, who has been a dominant force in Illinois swimming since she was 10. “I have developed great time management skills, which are required to get my homework done around my practice time. It also teaches a strong work ethic. Whatever you give in practice will show during a race.”
Lanigan’s coach, Eugene Spivak, says that two of her best qualities are determination and intelligence. “When she puts her mind to something….she goes after that goal full-force,” he says. “She is a swimmer who always knows what’s going on, understands her race plan and the swimmers she is competing against.”
At press time, Lanigan was preparing to travel to Ireland as a member of the National Club Swimming Association‘s 2015 All-Star Junior Team. Twenty-six elite girls and boys qualified last winter to meet, train and compete in Dublin at the Irish Open Swimming Championships. Lanigan’s outstanding performance against some of the top girls in the country earned her one of these coveted spots.
This summer—as she works to whittle down her college choices from the many interested institutions—Lanigan will continue her life in the fast lane: vying for U.S. Olympic Trials cuts and racing for top spots at Junior National meets. “I am close in the 200 and the 400 Freestyle,” says Lanigan, of her chances at the Olympic trials.
As for college: “I want to find the right balance between school and swimming,” Lanigan says, in what’s starting to sound like a theme.
Swimming is a grueling sport that requires hours in the pool along with strength and flexibility training on dry land. Despite this, her school demands and some limited downtime with family and friends, Lanigan still finds time to give back. “I volunteer at Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association teaching swimming to kids with mental or physical disabilities,” she says. “I may lead a workout or teach a lesson. It makes me appreciate my swimming.”
This article is part of our Incredible Kids series. Find more profiles here: