The questions and looks of amazement are understandable, but it’s the price to be paid to be more than just ordinary.
Every day for more than a year-and-a-half, Anna Farnsworth has been getting up at 5:30 a.m., diving into the pool by 6, and after school, returning to the pool for another round of conditioning.
“I get a lot of, ‘That’s insane. Why are you doing that to yourself?’” said the State College senior, who has now been rewarded for all that work.
Farnsworth is competing this weekend at the PIAA Class AAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium, swimming on two relays and in two individual events.
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On Saturday, she placed sixth in the 100-yard backstroke, State College’s top individual finish in the event. That followed an eighth-place showing in the 100 butterfly and a 16th-place effort with a trio of young swimmers in the 400 medley relay.
Also Saturday, Alex Hillsley, Trevor Beahm, Ian Schrock and Jan Lazny earned a finals appearance and placed eighth in the boys’ 400 freestyle relay. That finish moved the Little Lions to seventh in the boys’ team race.
In addition to the competition and medals, Farnsworth has something else to reward her for all those early-morning swims – more early mornings in the pool.
She plans on attending Penn State and swimming with the Nittany Lions later this year.
“I’ve always wished about playing a sport in college,” the 5-foot-10 Farnsworth said. “I started swimming in high school and it’s a dream come true to be on a team as great as they are.”
Farnsworth first began learning her strokes at age 6, was in the pool year-round by eighth grade and was doing the two-a-days in high school. First she did them just in-season, but by her junior year, when a college goal and state success was on the horizon, the training was ramped up to two dips in the pool every day year-round.
“It builds character, for sure,” said Farnsworth, who was clocked in 58.05 seconds in the Friday finals of the 100 butterfly after a 57.17 morning turn in the preliminaries. In her favorite event, she turned in a time of 57.03 in the finals of the 100 backstroke. She swam 56.92 in the preliminaries.
“It sort of teaches you time management, and that’s great for college because you have to study and get in bed on time because that’s the way it works.”
It’s the dedication, the willingness to live her life around the pool, that has brought her to Bucknell for the state finals and for the path laid out for her future.
“She’s driven to succeed, she’s driven to reach her full potential,” Little Lions coach Ryan Spang said. “Her best days of swimming are still well ahead of her.”
Farnsworth did not have the best of finals for the 100 butterfly, forgetting to breath during the opening half-lap until the made a turn. It caught up to her by the end of the race, but the butterfly is a new event for her. She is much better versed in the backstroke.
“She’s still learning every time she gets in the pool,” Spang said. “She has nothing to be upset about. She did a great job.”
Farnsworth is one of several Little Lions with college swimming in their future.
Teammate Liz Browne, who was 29th in the 200 freestyle on Friday, will be swimming at East Carolina, Sam Eaton is headed to Dickinson and a few others are still pondering their choices.
For Farnsworth, the choice was pretty easy. Her parents work on campus, so she gets a break on the tuition, and while she did take looks at other schools it also was pretty much the only one seriously considered. For someone who has lived in State College since she was born, it is a dream come true.
“I’ve always been in love with Penn State,” said Farnsworth, who plans to study nutrition. “I bleed blue and white.”
Also in girls’ competition on Saturday, Browne finished 15th in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:16.06. Browne had earned the final spot in the consolation finals by swimming 5:06.93 in the preliminaries.
Alisha Forrest (55.16) was 31st in the 100 freestyle. Kirsten Hillsley (1:10.02) also was 31st in the 100 breaststroke. Farnsworth, Forrest, Juliet Garrigan and Browne placed 19th in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:36.53. The State College girls had 28 points and finished 24th in the team race. Hershey won the team crown with 292
In the boys’ competition, Hillsley, Beahm, Schrock and Lazny earned the eighth and final spot in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:09.44. They finished in that spot in the final with a time of 3:10.32
In other events, Bradley Gibble turned in an impressive finish in the consolation finals of the 500 freestyle. Gibble was 11th in the preliminaries with a time of 4:39.54, but made a massive improvement in the consolation finals. Gibble placed ninth with a time of 4:35.00, an improvement of more then 4 1/2 seconds.
Hillsley narrowly missed the finals in the 100 backstroke. His time of 51.48 was .14 seconds out of the eighth spot. Hillsley improved that time in the finals, but finished 11th with a time of 51.38.
Lazny was 20th in the 100 freestyle in 47.48. Carter Hardy (59.56) took 23rd and Sam Eaton (1:00.69) was 31st in the 100 breaststroke.
State College totaled 92 points in the team race. La Salle College won with 290.