If you have ever been through the local Fusion Aquatic Center attached to the Hillsboro Area Hospital any night of the week in the last six years, you may have seen 13-year-old Witt native Hope Speiser training in the pool.
Speiser swims for the Springfield-based Bearsharktopus Aquatic Swim Club and also had participated on the local summer league team, the Montgomery County Sharks.
Recently, she has returned from competing in sunny Florida at the NCSA National Age Group Championships. This was her third year of qualifying for this event. In 2020, though qualified, she missed her chance to attend after the meet was canceled due to COVID-19. This year, after returning from another pause in her training in February 2021, also due to COVID, she found out she would have only seven weeks to train for this year’s nationals.
“I felt nervous only having seven weeks to train, having so little time to prepare,” Speiser said. “No one spends seven weeks training for a large event. It was definitely different. However, in the end, I felt pretty accomplished and happy with how far I got in that short amount of time.”
Overall, Speiser’s performance held up at this year’s meet despite the lack of endurance training. Her best performance at this year’s nationals was in the 50-yard freestyle as the swim qualified her for next year’s national meet and also earned a spot to represent Team Illinois at this year’s Zone Championships in August.
According to Hope’s mother, the 13-year-old’s love of water has always been there.
“When she was little, she would ask me to go swimming every day, so we made a rewards system. If she did chores, she could go swim,” Jodi Speiser said. “She would swim until her lips would turn purple and then cry, and THEN we would leave.”
These days, swimming every day is still part of her future as Speiser begins preparing for high school and college swimming.
The 2021-22 season will be her last competition at the age-group level. This dominant athlete in the pool is quickly becoming one to watch on both the state and national levels of the sport.
“Hope is an amazing athlete and a pleasure to workwith. Her success and natural ability often astounds me, being that she comes from no formal swimming background,” stated her coach, Bobby Allison. “She began swimming for me at nine. By the end of her first season on the program, she had already earned her first championship cuts. From there, she just became an all-around force in the water. I am so proud of all she’s accomplished and excited to see where her future will take her. She is just fun to watch race, man can she just send it!”
Hope is also looking forward to her future in the water.
“I would like to earn a spot at a strong D1 college and swim a few additional years past that, Speiser said. “I’m passionate about the sport and the influence it has on my life. I would like to be able to look back over my swim career and celebrate the great times I had with my teammates as well as my own experiences.”
Speiser will continue training for the long course meter and open water championships this summer.
If anyone is interested in learning more about Bearcharktopus Aquatic Swim Club, visit them at www.facebook.com/BASCswimming.