South Charlotte

Ardrey Kell senior makes big splash for the Knights

Two summers ago, everything in Shannon Foreman's life changed when her father, John, took a job as an energy trader with Wells Fargo, meaning the family would have to move from Delaware to Charlotte.

After growing up in Hockessin, Del., her entire life, Foreman would be leaving everything she knew as a 16-year-old rising junior.

"At first, I was really nervous about leaving home," Foreman said. "I didn't know what to expect in Charlotte or what the high school I went to would be like or how my swimming career would change."

Foreman, who was an all-state swimmer at the Charter School of Delaware and a standout for her club team, called Team Delaware, would also have establish herself among the elite all over again.

But the challenge of doing that didn't take long, as Foreman not only stood out on her SwimMAC Carolinas' club team (under Coach James Wike), but also quickly proved that she would be a key member of an Ardrey Kell girls' team.

"Swimming really helped get me involved and get to meet people right when I got to Charlotte," Foreman said. "Being involved with MAC and the Ardrey Kell team really made my transition a lot easier."

Last year, Foreman quickly established herself as the Knights' top sprinter on a team that looked to become the first team to challenge the Providence girls' swim team for Southwestern 4A Conference supremacy in nearly two decades.

When it mattered most, in the final meet of the regular season against Providence, Foreman was at her best, winning the conference title in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, while anchoring both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.

Down going into the final event, Foreman swam the final leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay, where she edged out Providence's Susie Raichle by .09 seconds to clinch the SW4A conference title, becoming the first team to beat the Panthers in 19 years.

"The Providence meet last year was probably the most fun I've ever had at a swim meet," Foreman said. "To know it was going to come down to the final event and then win it was a very special thing for our team."

Foreman's coach, William Keith, who swam for Providence in high school (1998-2001), had similar feelings about Foreman and his team.

"Shannon is our anchor and our leader, both emotionally and in the pool," Keith said. "When we need a big swim, we look to her. She had a remarkable year, but that swim to beat Providence is something we will never forget."

Foreman, who went on to finish fifth in the 50-yard freestyle and seventh in 100-yard freestyle at the state meet, started getting the recognition that she deserved, but never expected what would come next.

About a month after the season, Sports Illustrated recognized her efforts in the regular feature, called Faces in the Crowd, highlighting her performance against Providence.

"When I first found out at the state meet from coach Keith, I thought it was a joke," Foreman said. "Then, he announced that I was in Sports Illustrated at the Ardrey Kell team banquet and I knew it was real. When I saw myself, I was very proud."

Foreman's efforts in the pool and in the classroom, where she has a 4.85 weight grade-point average, have helped her realize another dream of earning a college scholarship.

Foreman had several swimming scholarship offers, but in the end chose to sign with Rice University in Houston. Foreman will not only work to prove she can be a collegiate swimming standout but also major in pre-medicine, where she one day hopes to be a pediatrician.

"To be able get a scholarship to a great school like Rice because of my swimming is a dream come true," Foreman said.

While Foreman's future looks bright, she still has a few things she wants to accomplish at Ardrey Kell and MAC, where she is working on improving her personal bests, which currently include 24.04 seconds in the 50 freestyle, 52.12 in the 100 freestyle and 57.74 in the 100 backstroke, her top three events.

And after winter break, Foreman, 18, and the Ardrey Kell team (6-0 this year) take on Providence at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center Jan. 6, with the SW4A conference title in the balance.

After that, the Knights will hope to be a factor at the 4A West Regional and 4A state meets.

"Winning the conference again is our first goal, but it is certainly not our last," Keith said. "Anything we're going to be able to do, Shannon Foreman is going to be a big part of our success."

Foreman says looking back on the last two years, she would not change a thing that happened to her.

"I'm really glad that my family moved to Charlotte because it has created a lot of opportunities for us," Foreman said. "I have not only gotten better with MAC but also really enjoyed being a part of the Ardrey Kell swimming family. Hopefully, our best is yet to come."