This is one in a series of articles from WeLoveAnnArbor highlighting members of the Pioneer girls’ swimming and diving 2020 state championship team.
Before we jump in the water and chronicle Amelia Weyhing’s amazing accomplishments at the Division 1 State Finals, let’s get her breakdown of the 2020 Pioneers – and take an inside look at what made them so successful.
“Our team this year was just a group of really great girls,” says the standout junior swimmer. “Most of us have known each other since we were in elementary school and it’s really nice how comfortable everyone is with one another. With the pandemic, everyone was skeptical of how the season would play out, and it certainly did not disappoint in the surprise department, but it turned out to be super fun regardless.
“All of the nutty things that happened because of the pandemic, like practicing in a cold lake after school, worked to make the team closer and will make for great ‘back in my day stories.’ ”
Another story that will most certainly be brought up often in the future is swimming away with the Division 1 state title. And the Pioneers did it in convincing fashion, scoring 368 points, 184 points better than runner-up Farmington Hills Mercy.
“Winning states was super awesome,” says Weyhing. “More than anything, I was super grateful that we had a meet to swim at and the chance to finish our season on such a high note.”
Weyhing, 16, said the Pioneers were “extremely confident” when they headed to Hudsonville High School for MHSAA D-1 State Finals last month.
“Consistently throughout the season we had shown that we could be flexible and perform no matter the conditions and that really paid off in those final few weeks of the season,” she says. “On an individual level, because I had been lucky enough to consistently be in the water during all the stops, I was pretty positive entering the finals and I was really pleased with my improvements.”
Let’s dive into those improvements.
Last year as a super sophomore, Weyhing placed 10th in the breaststroke and 15th in the 50-free. She took it to a whole different level as an 11th grader. She placed fourth in the 100 free with a time of 51.69 and then touched third in the breaststroke in 1:03.99.
She also swam on the winning 200 free relay and the winning 400 free relay team this year.
Weyhing was able to cap off a brilliant junior season by focusing on the job at hand and overcoming whatever challenges floated her way.
“I missed the more social aspect of swimming this year with all the safety guidelines that were in place,” she says of some of those challenges. “It was hard not being able to sit right next to someone at a meet and just talk.
“For me, all the uncertainty around our season was also difficult to accept and it was really tough to stay motivated when we all had to swim on our own. No one knew if we would be allowed to finish our season, let alone when.”
But when the time came, the Pioneers were ready – as one would expect from such a successful program. Weyhing has some good reasons why the Pioneers are so good every season.
“In general, Ann Arbor is very conducive to having strong swimming programs year after year with WISC and the access to multiple club teams,” she says. “Pioneer specifically has a history of having great coaches like Stef (Kerska) and Pat (Zakrajsek) who bring so much energy and expertise to the program.”
Weyhing began swimming when she was 8 years old at Liberty Athletic Club over the summer and then joined Club Wolverine that fall. “If I’m being honest, in the beginning I liked swimming because I didn’t like being sweaty and I was good at it,” she says.
She has been with the highly respected and very successful Club Wolverine from ages 8-14 and then the Saline Swim Team between ages 14-15. While she is not currently swimming for a club team, she is looking forward to getting back in the water with the Pioneers.
“I’m really looking forward to another amazing season,” she says. “Hopefully by that time things will be going well enough that we can have more team bonding activities and maybe go to a relay meet (gosh I love the breaststroke relay).”
Amelia, the daughter of Adrian and Linda Weyhing, has a 4.0 GPA and also plays flute in band at school, is a member of the color guard (flags) for marching band, and is a member of student council.
Her future is still TBA.
“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do in the future and in college,” she says. “As of now, I don’t have any concrete plans.”