The grueling hours and the amount of hard work a swimmer puts on almost every part of their body makes the sport a hard worker's dream.
Emily Conway of Hopewell High is no exception. The senior has parlayed her hard work in the pool into a scholarship to the University of Louisville, one of the top women's swimming programs in the nation.
"It was pretty exciting," said Conway. "I had no idea I was going to be swimmer of the year so it was a pretty big surprise."
The honor was bestowed on Conway after winning the 100-yard butterfly and being part of the second place 200-yard individual medley team at the I-Meck conference meet, a race her and teammates won at regionals.
While Conway may have been surprised being named swimmer of the year, her first-year head coach wasn't.
"She's a hard worker, and she's got a great attitude," said Hopewell coach Robert Rettig. "On an individual level she's extremely self-motivated." That self-motivation is a big reason Conway has survived this sport for the more than 11 years. Joining the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club when she was just 7 years old, Conway felt right at home in the pool.
"I feel relaxed when [I'm swimming]," she said. "A lot of people say it's really hard, but when I get in the pool it just clears my mind, and I feel like I can just go forever."
With all of Conway's hard work, it's not surprising that she has accomplished so much. Following her showing at the conference meet, Conway finished second at the state competition two weeks ago, setting a new school record and garnering All-American consideration in the 100-meter butterfly. She also set a school record in the 200-meter freestyle relay, falling less than a tenth of a second short of All-American consideration.
"Last year and this year I said I wanted to get top three at states in at least one individual race," said Conway in an interview prior to her state meet. "I'm hoping to go out with a bang."
The senior got her wish, and now she's ready to move on to the college life, something she knows is going to take even more hard work.
Rettig has no doubt that Conway will succeed at the next level.
"She's humble, but I think deep down she knows that if it's her day and the race is close, she's going to win," he said.
While swimming has provided Conway with some great athletic and academic opportunities, it's the relationships she's formed over the years with past and present teammates that she says she cherishes most.
"I've just really enjoyed all the friends I've made..."