Elle Kreighbaum dove into the pool and backstroked, breaststroked and freestyled her way to a Chanute Shark team record.
When she sprung out of the Maring Aquatic Center pool, she had accomplished a record at the SEK League Swim Championship on Saturday, July 27. Officially, Kreighbaum claimed first place versus competitors from Independence, Fort Scott, Coffeyville, Erie, Humboldt and Iola, with a time of 1:12:32 in the 100-yard individual medley — a record for the Chanute Sharks.
Add the team record to her list of accolades, which also includes five high-point trophies since the age of 6 and team records for the 200 Free (2:20:57) and the 50 Free (28:81).
“It was really nice and fun, because I knew I won against older people — and by a lot kind of, Kreighbaum said jokingly of her accomplishment. “It felt good after it and accomplished.”
Her schedule is all but funny. And with a prudent approach, her rigorous schedule pays dividends.
The Royster Middle School student mostly attended Chanute Shark practices during the swim year beginning in June, as the practices were usually 7:45 am, Monday through Friday. But Kreighbaum, 13, also attended the Parsons Dolphins’ practices, with the practices at 7:45 am Monday to Friday, though Kreighbaum would attend a Parsons’ practice at least once a week, thanks to her family dropping her off and making the necessary arrangements based on work schedules.
Kreighbaum said she prioritizes Chanute based on her family living in Chanute. Kreighbaum’s mom, Jill Kreighbaum, said it comes down to a schedule, which comprises volleyball and basketball practices with Royster during the school year.
“It’s just a matter of logistics,” Jill said. “Her dad and I both work. How do we get her to Parsons? And do you work? The coaches here (Chanute), they have good practices here, they have good workouts. I don’t think it hurts her at all to practice there (Parsons) and still swim here (Chanute). It’s just whatever I can make work usually, or grandmas. We depend a lot on the grandmas.”
When the grandmas are in town, Jill said they pick Kreighbaum up and ensure that she is well fed for the next day in an effort to do it all over again.
For Parsons, on the other hand, Jill said it takes a little bit more pondering.
“It takes a little bit more planning or commitment because if you are going to drive 45 minutes there, then you are going to sit there for two hours for practice, and then another 45 minutes home. You can’t go home and throw in a load of laundry when you drive down there (Parsons).”
The trip to Parsons might impact the gas in a negative way, but for Kreighbaum, she reaps the benefits of being able to swim more, honing her craft amongst other swimmers.
“I think so because it is more intense up there (Parsons) with competition and a lot of competitive teams in Missouri,” Kreighbaum continued.
Jill said one of the reasons why there is stiffer competition in Parsons is because a lot of the athletes in Missouri have access to YMCAs, which are readily available in many towns in the Show-Me State. High School swimming programs are available, too.
Another advantage for Kreighbaum, Jill said, is the number of coaches she is around. In Chanute, there are close to 100 swimmers who are managed by six coaches, and in Parsons there are three coaches overseeing close to 45 or so swimmers.
Coaching from both towns assisted Kreighbaum tying for a high-point trophy in the Taran Sack Invitational meet on June 22 this past 2019 swim year for the Dolphins.
Going to Parsons and experiencing different talent levels and coaches is a pragmatic approach to swimming greatness. But to dwarf the competition, training outside of the pools is paramount.
Kreighbaum said she engaged in CrossFit at CrossFit Chanute on Monday and Friday.
“I think its made me a lot stronger, even though its been this summer, usually go once week or twice a week,” Kreighbaum said.
Twice a week since the beginning of June — and up to the beginning of August — Kreighbaum used bar bells, a box jump and ran for cardio, strength and endurance in an effort to becoming indefatigable — avoiding being tired out in the pool.
And on the side, Kreighbaum would participate in private lessons with Drake Gilmore at his family’s pool. Gilmore is a former Chanute Shark who is an assistant coach, and a 13-time high-point trophy winner.
With the constant managing of her busy schedule and the skills she is developing thanks to both Chanute and Parsons, Kreighbaum said she hopes to use both skill sets for Kansas University and Olympic swimming.
Kreighbaum was greeted by five or so jovial peers and coaches. They all gave her hugs and high-fives on the accomplishment.
“Obviously we are very proud of her, and hopes she continues to do it,” Jill said. “I like watching her compete. Swimming is awesome. It’s the one sport you can have the kids in one pool, in one venue on one day and you don’t have to worry about the field or if it is across town or in a different city. It’s a great sport because you can do it when you are 88.”