Since she was 8, Justine Turley has swum year-round. Now 16, she swims competitively for NOMAD: North Mecklenburg Aqua Devils.
She also swam for Charlotte Catholic High School her freshman, sophomore and junior years. For both teams she swims the 200-yard individual medley, the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.
Charlotte Catholic's team went to the state finals each year she swam. The team won the state championship her freshman year, Justine said, but since it had won before, "No one asked us if we wanted state championship rings."
When they won the state championship her sophomore year, Justine's mom said, "How come no ring?" That year, Justine said, they got rings.
"We're new kids; we wanted them," she said.
Justine coaches swimming at Highland Creek subdivision in Huntersville, where she lived before moving to Cornelius. In summer league, neighborhood teams compete. She's coached the younger kids ages 5-6, 9-10 girls, 8-and-under girls and 11-12 boys.
"We've won the past two years. I say it's because of my coaching.... Only kidding," Justine said and laughed.
Justine was about 9 the first time she swam competitively.
"I did completely the wrong stroke. I was in the pool practicing the breaststroke, but when the race started, I swam freestyle. I got really excited and thought, 'I'm winning.' I was at the flags (markers for the swimmers), then I looked around and figured out I was doing the wrong stroke. I stopped, stood up and started crying. The person timing said, 'Just finish, Come on.' "
Although she doesn't know where she'll go to college, Justine knows she wants to stay in North Carolina.
While I was talking to Justine, her friend Courtney Crowell, also from Cornelius, was sitting with us. Courtney asked Justine whether she was good enough to swim for a college team. Justine's answer, "Yeah, but not a big college."
Her most embarrassing moment happened recently, she said. She was sitting on the top bunk of the beds in her room, watching TV from there "because the glare wasn't as bad. I dropped my phone and leaned over and kind of twisted to get it. As I was twisting, I fell off the bed and almost landed on the dog. I landed flat on my back.
"I got to see the whole thing, because across from my bed is a mirror. No one else was home, and I laid there for like 10 minutes, saying, 'Ow.' "
Justine said the dress she is wearing to church for Easter today is gray with ruffles.
"It's really cute," she said. "I wore it for my induction into the National Honor Society. When they called my name, they called me Justin instead of Justine."
Justine said she's looking forward to the prom. She showed me a picture of her dress: a pretty blue one with a swirl design on the bottom. Justine has the dress, but she said, "I have no date yet - hint, hint, hint."
The Cornelius PARC Department and the Lake Norman Tennis Academy will have a free Tennis Fun Day 11 a.m.-1 p.m. May 7 at Bailey Road Park. Youths to adults can attend a tennis clinic, compete in games and register for prizes. Tennis racquets and tennis balls will be available if needed.
For details about tennis lessons for youth and adults, go to www.corneliuspr.org or call 704-892-6031 ext. 160.