Prose and Kohn: Ryan Kohn
I don’t often write two stories about one school, let alone one program, in one week.
But Emma Weyant’s future is too bright to ignore, and because the boys team got shine in this week’s sports cover, it was only right that she got it here.
The Riverview High girls junior swimmer took home three golds at the 2018 Phil “Boomer” Denis Invitational on Sept. 8 at the Selby Aquatic Center, winning the 200 IM (2:06.67) and 100 backstroke (1:00.14) and anchoring the 400 freestyle relay team to a first-place finish (3:45.90, with Weyant swimming 54.21).
She did something even more impressive this summer, with the American flag etched in her swim cap. Weyant qualified to represent her country in the 2018 Junior Pan Pacific Championships on Aug. 23-26 in Suva, Fiji, where she won the girls 400 IM in 4:40.64. That time included a blistering 1:20.42 breaststroke split in the second half of the race, which helped her come from behind to win.
Donning the red, white and blue puts Weyant in rarefied company, joining former Riverview swimmer Austin Katz as recent Rams to represent the U.S. in international competition. Katz, a sophomore at the University of Texas, was a member of the USA Swimming 2017-2018 National Team.
“It’s an honor to follow in the path of people who have done amazing things,” Weyant said.
How to split IM events, and how to come from behind at the halfway point, was Weyant’s biggest takeaway from the event, she said, at least in terms of advice. She'll also remember the nerves she felt before her race, the different swim styles and recovery techniques she saw put into action and, crucially, the different snacks available to nosh before and after events. Weyant ultimately stuck by her tried and true: Goldfish crackers.
Even her snacks have a connection to the water.
Riverview coach Brent Arckey called Weyant a “top-50, if not top-30, swimmer in the country.” This is the guy who’s coached both Riverview and the Sarasota Sharks club team to countless championships, so he knows what he’s talking about.
Despite now having experience with international racing, Weyant isn’t taking the high school season any less seriously. Her eyes open wide at even the notion.
“I finished second in both my individual events (at the state meet) last year,” Weyant said, the 200 IM (2:02.44) and 500 freestyle (4:50.80). She says it with frustration, like there’s nothing that will stop her from changing that result in 2018. Who am I to question her?
The Denis Invitational was a good start, Weyant said, despite swimming in some “off” events. She beat good friend Isabel Traba, of Sarasota High, in the 200 IM, but the Sailors bested the Rams for the team title, 187.5 to 178 (Senior Rams swimmer Christina Cianciolo didn’t compete, among others, which may have made a difference). The Rams finished third at states in 2017, and Weyant said the team feels motivation to match the boys side and take a state title.
With Weyant leading the way, there’s a good chance those dreams stay afloat.