Twelve-year-old Sophia Gerhart, of Spring Mills, broke almost every record in her age group for the Penns Valley Penguins swim team this summer.
It’s a feat that’s never happened in team history, her father, Matt Gerhart, said.
The Penns Valley Area seventh-grader has been swimming since she was 6 years old and has been in the summer swim league for nearly as long. The team practices at the Millheim Pool at Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Park.
“My mom and dad didn’t know the pool was there, and when they found out about it, we started swimming and I really liked it,” Sophia said.
The Penns Valley Penguins swim team is open to children ages 4 and older. The season runs from early June to the end of July, and is considered a “sprint” swim league. No individual race is more than 100 yards long and no team event is more than 200 yards.
Come this fall and winter, Sophia will join a league through the YMCA in State College, where she will swim 200 yards and longer.
“It takes a lot of practice,” she said. “We usually practice for two hours and work on our strokes and do sets.”
Her favorite events are the 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard fly, because they best show her talents, Sophia said.
“Every time I get in the pool, I want to improve and do better each time,” she said. “My goal is to beat my last record.”
Sophia competes on the girls age 11-12 team.
“When I won, my family, friends and coaches were so supportive,” Sophia said. “It was really exciting and their support helps boost my confidence to keep getting better.”
She also competes with her twin sister, Abigail, in the relay events, which had a record-setting season two years in a row.
“It’s fun to swim along with her,” Sophia said.
Sophia hopes to pursue swimming once she enters high school with aspirations to swim in college.
“My coaches teach me a lot, like different swimming techniques, to keep improving, and hopefully that can help me in the future,” she said.