OKEECHOBEE- This week’s Big Lake Athletes of the Week are Okeechobee High School swimmers Emily Johnson, Emily Hildebrand, Lilly Maxwell and Vanessa Johnson.
The OHS swim team traveled to Sebring to compete in the 2021 Blackman Invitational. At the tournament, the four girls finished in first place in the 100 Yard Freestyle Relay.
The win was impressive for the Brahmans, even more so when you consider that nearly every other school at the invitational had significantly more swimmers that Okeechobee did.
“Every other school there had a considerably larger team,” explained OHS swim coach Jack Boon. “So I’m particularly proud of the way we performed because we were so outnumbered. The four girls in particular did a phenomenal job.”
“They placed first in that relay,” continued Boon. “It was a wonderful race.”
Another factor giving other schools an edge is the fact that most of them are able to swim year-round in to practice or compete in, something that isn’t possible in Okeechobee. But even with a shorter amount of time to swim here in the county, a local summer recreation league swim team, the Okeechobee Shockwaves, has helped even the odds and acted as somewhat of a feeder program for the OHS team.
All four of the girls who won that relay in Sebring have spent time on the Shockwaves.
Lilly Maxwell is a sophomore at OHS. Vanessa Johnson and Emily Johnson are sisters. Vanessa is a senior at OHS while Emily is a freshman. Emily Hildebrand is a junior and this will be her third year swimming for OHS.
The OHS swim team will be swimming in Okeechobee again on Oct. 7. It will also be the team’s senior night.
If you have someone you’d like to nominate for Big Lake Athlete of the Week, email Lake Okeechobee News sports reporter Richard Marion at firstname.lastname@example.org