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High School Athlete Profile: Cheyenne Schoen, DeSales Swimmer

Halley McCormick

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DeSales High School senior Cheyenne Schoen talks swimming and future ambitions with charming confidence and a bright smile. With just four years of competitive swimming under her belt, Schoen has excelled to become one of the top swimmers in Washington State. She is the captain of the Walla Walla High School Varsity Swim Team, and is planning to continue swimming in college.

Walla Walla High School swimmer Cheyenne Schoen practicing in Whitman’s Harvey Pool. Photos by Halley McCormick.

What’s your hometown?
Well, I’ve kind of lived all over the U.S., but I’ve lived here [Walla Walla] the longest. I’ve been here for five years so I’d probably call this my hometown, but I’ve lived in a ton of different states so I can’t really pick one.

Schoen out of the water.

How did you get involved with swimming?
Actually, I just started four years ago, which seems kind of like a long time, but in the sports world doing it your whole life is a long time. So, I actually got started because my friend just said, “Hey, we should go out for the summer league.” I was like, “Okay.” I was hesitant to do it, but I had a really great coach––she’s actually my high school coach right now––and she said I should really consider swimming as a freshman. And I was like, “No, that’s funny, I’m not going to.” But she said, “No, really, come out.” So I went out my freshman year, and actually ended up making it to state. Walla Walla High School is Class 4A, and I actually go to DeSales, but I swim for Walla Walla High School because DeSales is a small Catholic school and we don’t have a swim team.

What was your first race experience like?
Nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what I was doing, really. My first race was the summer of 2009, and I was so nervous. I was not focused on the swimming; I was just focused on everyone else in the other lanes. Something I’ve learned over these past couple years is that as I get more and more experienced, I learn to focus just on my lane, not any of the others, because if you’re focused on the other lanes you’re not going to do as great of a job. My first race I was definitely thinking, “Oh my goodness, this person is so much taller than me” or “The person to my left, look at how muscly they are!” But I’ve learned to overcome that fear.

How has swimming helped you grow in high school in and out of the pool?
As a freshman I was like a little mouse, and I wasn’t social on the team or anything. Last year I was nominated to be captain, and this year I’m the captain. I’ve grown mentally in my racing and training mentality. I try to attack every day of training like a race. Really hitting every wall. Swimming is a learning process, as is every sport, but it has taught me things that are useful inside of the pool as well as things with my extracurricular activities and with school, especially time management and how to keep on task.

As captain, how do you help the team dynamic?
Being captain is so much fun and it’s something I’m so glad to have the opportunity to do. I like having the leadership role, but I also like sitting back and watching the whole team kind of form, especially the underclassmen. I like to see how the team is going to be in the future, and help out with building the team up. It’s fun while I’m on the team, but what I’d really like for it to be in the next years when I’m not on the team is for me to come back and see them being stronger than we are now. Being captain is really fun, and we’ve got nine other seniors on the team so it’s incredible.

Does your family come out and support you?
Yes, I have one sister who is a junior at Walla Walla High School. They really do [support me], and I am so fortunate to have them behind my lane at every race.

What are you goals for the future?
At the district meet I hope to qualify for state, and I’m seeded first in the 100-breast stroke so I’m thinking I’ll probably make it. If not, we qualified a relay to state, too, so I’ll be there for that. After state, I’ll continue swimming with the Walla Walla swim club as I’ve done for the past four years. And after that I’m hoping to swim Division III in college.

How is the process of applying to college going?
It’s so overwhelming. I wish I could just have a perfect place. Here [Whitman] looks pretty good to me, but it’s home, so it’s another reason why I might want to get out. I’m kind of looking on the East Coast.

Do you have any idea of what you’d like to study in college?
I’d like to go pre-med. That is a big hope right now, and maybe a stretch.

What other activities are you involved in outside of swimming?
I am the president of the National Honors Society. I’m in a community service league called Girls League and we do community-wide projects, blood drives and food drives. I’m in the band. I’ve been in band for four years. I play the French horn and the trumpet. And I’m senior class secretary.

If you could play any other sport, what would you play and why?
I also have done track at DeSales, and I really like it. I’m so short that is seems like sports like track, swimming and cross country––the team, yet individual sports––are kind of what I like more. I played soccer for 11 years, but it just didn’t really work out for me. I also like to ski. But, if I were to choose a sport that I don’t do regularly I think it’d be cool to ice skate.

What were you for Halloween?
An elf. Like a “Lord of the Rings”-status elf. My boyfriend is really into “Lord of the Rings” and he was like, “Hey, I’m going to be a dwarf so you should be something from ‘Lord of the Rings.'” And I was like, “Okay, sounds good.” So he made his whole costume and I have an elf costume.

How do you hope to take what you’ve learned in high school to the next level in college?
Oh, boy. I know it’s going to be a lot different. I will be the newbie again, but that’s okay! I’m excited. I think I can take the training that I’ve done the past couple years and really apply it. Also, I’ll have college studies and so it will be interesting trying to balance that as a student athlete. But I’m excited to see where it takes me.

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High School Athlete Profile: Cheyenne Schoen, DeSales Swimmer