Skyline swimming and diving coach Mo-Jo Murrett has coached plenty of phenomenal athletes and fierce competitors over the many years, but they all haven’t had the “heart of a lion” like standout junior Erika Sauld.
“Erika is a talented athlete who truly has the heart of a lion,” Murrett says. “She loves to compete and is always looking to improve. She comes to practice every day prepared and ready to go. She is a compassionate teammate and just seems to enjoy what life has to offer.”
Right now, Sauld is enjoying Skyline swimming and is excited about where the season takes her and her teammates in the coming weeks.
“Our goal this year is doing well at SECs and getting a lot of state cuts,” says Sauld, the talented junior swimmer. “So far we have all of the relay cuts and some swimmers have their individual cuts.”
Speaking of state cuts, Sauld experienced some heartbreak last season when she just missed qualifying for the state finals. But she handled it well and is now looking to make up the difference.
“I just missed my individual state cut in the 50 free by 0.4 seconds last year, so I have a personal goal to make that happen this year,” she says.
But she also has team goals and hopes to help the Eagles land in successful waters this season.
“Another goal I have this year is to make the new swimmers feel part of the team and really have the experience of being a part of such a good community,” she says. “Personally, if I didn’t have a supportive team environment I wouldn’t be swimming. And as one of the captains this year, I really feel like I can make this happen. I also hope that I can show the new swimmers who might not be on a club team that hard work pays off no matter what.”
Hard work has certainly paid off for Sauld, who swims the 50 free, 100 free and on a couple relays for the Eagles. She approaches practices with the same level of intensity she does a swim meet and her improvement shows every time she jumps in the water.
“My commitment to the team is definitely very important to me and pushes me to always be there physically and mentally for all practices, whether it is at 6 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.,” she says.
Sauld has been a member of the Skyline team since her freshman year and has primarily been a sprinter, mainly freestyle and butterfly.
“Relays have always been my favorite event because you have your team right behind you on the block cheering you on,” she says. “I always get an extra boost of adrenaline swimming in relays.”
She has gone to states both freshman and sophomore year on relay teams. As a freshman, she swam butterfly in the medley relay and as a sophomore she was on the 200 free and 400 free relays.
Skyline’s 200 free relay team placed seventh at the State Finals last year.
Sauld first became interested in swimming when she joined the Huron Valley Swim Club when she was just 6 years old.
“I made friends right away that I am still close with to this day, many of them swim on the Skyline swim team with me,” she said. “Swimming is an individual sport and it is very intense and time consuming. Having the team and my coaches be there for me is truly one of the most appealing parts of swimming.”
The daughter of Jennifer and David Sauld, Erika has a 3.95 GPA and also plays number two singles on the Skyline varsity tennis team. The 16-year-old also enjoys snowmobiling, skiing, and hanging out with friends.
She says school is going “really well.”
“I am really enjoying being back in person and seeing my friends I haven’t seen in a long time,” she says. “Dealing with the pandemic was hard but playing sports was a lifesaver because they kept me active and gave me the opportunity to socialize.”
Sauld is just starting to look into colleges and exploring various opportunities.
We’ll take our final lap with one last comment from the coach: “She is a wonderful human being,” Murrett says.
Main photo by Lon Horwedel