The Lakewood Ranch senior talks the difficulty of backstroke and the area she has improved the most.
Emily Massengale is a senior girls swimmer at Lakewood Ranch High. Massengale, who is deaf but uses cochlear implants to hear, won the 100-yard backstroke and finished second in the 100-yard butterfly at the team's Class 4A district meet, held Nov. 1 in Sarasota. Massengale will advance to the team's regional meet, held Nov. 8 at the Long Center in Palm Harbor.
When did you start swimming competitively?
When I was 10 years old, in 2011. That was in York, Pa. I was trying to find the right sport for me, so I was giving things a shot. Swimming turned out to be it. (Massengale moved to Lakewood Ranch in 2017.)
What is the appeal to you?
Back then, it was just something I enjoyed doing and a way to stay cool in the summer. Now, it's more than that. I swim in the World Deaf Swim Championships. I volunteer coach for my club team, the Sarasota Tsunami. I work as a lifeguard for Manatee County pools. It's my life. I spend almost 24/7 at the pool when I am not in school.
What is your best stroke?
The backstroke. It was naturally inside of me. I have a love/hate relationship with it, because I am good at it, but it is hard. It is tiring.
What is your favorite memory?
I don't know if I can pick just one. Maybe when I took silver in the 1,500-meter freestyle (18:45.43) at the 2019 World Deaf Swimming Championships in August in Sao Paolo, Brazil. I had not swam that event in four years, but our team needed a woman to compete in it and my coaches asked me to do it, so I said yes. I was shocked I did as well as I did.
Where have you improved the most?
I think my leadership skills have improved a lot since I started high school swimming. As a freshman, I was so timid. After arriving at Lakewood Ranch, I started to open up. I was named a captain during my junior year and I am again this season. I always tell people to think positive a few events before they are supposed to go, because that is when you get the most nerves. I am good at calming them down.
What are your goal times for regional and/or states?
I don't have goal times. I don't even look at the psych sheets before races. I don't want to know how my opponents are doing. I just focus on the finish. I would like to finish in the top-eight of my races at states, whatever time that takes.
What is your favorite food?
It used to be chicken. Now I lean toward pasta. Chicken Alfredo gets me both. I also love macaroni and cheese casserole.
What are your hobbies?
Like I said before, I do not get much time outside of school and the pool. When I do, I like to hang out with my close friends. We just went to play paintball at Hi-Tec Paintball Park in Bradenton. It was my first time and it was a lot of fun, but I have some bruises on my arms now.
What is your favorite subject?
Either math or science. Math just makes sense to me. I am good with numbers. Science can be interesting too, especially chemistry and physics.
What is the best advice you have received?
Do not stop. Be competitive. Train with people who will push you. Just go for it.
Finish this sentence: "Emily Massengale is … "
… Bright, supportive and bubbly.