A 10-year-old Alaina Bernsdorf had had her fill of swimming.
CORRECTION: Because of a reporter's error, the print and earlier online version of this story inadvertently gave the wrong first name of Westerville North boys swimmer Colin Hudnell, whose brother is Carter.
A 10-year-old Alaina Bernsdorf had had her fill of swimming.
She was done. Finished. Kaput.
However, sentiments can change, and the senior for the Westerville North girls swimming and diving team is in her third season with the program and headed to compete later this year at Ashland University.
"I had given up on swimming," Bernsdorf said. "No part of me liked it at all.
"When I was little I had a lot of energy and I was pretty good at it, but I was all about the land sports like soccer, basketball, gymnastics, all of those. You grow up and you have a few bumps in the road and look where you're at: You're back home swimming."
Bernsdorf was preparing to play soccer in her sophomore year at North when she suffered a knee injury that erased that season. While rehabbing in the pool, she realized that maybe she wanted to forego the "land sports" and get back to where she started.
"I loved swimming and was pretty good at it and that brought me back to the pool," she said. "I swam when I was young, but it wasn't really my thing. I was 10 years old and really wanted to go the soccer route.
"I had knee surgery on my right knee because of a dislocated kneecap at the beginning of my sophomore year. That had me out my whole soccer season and it was like a nine- or 10-month recovery. I came back and tried to do my junior year (of soccer) and I figured it would be better just to concentrate on swimming."
Bernsdorf has returned with a vengeance, specializing in the 100-yard breaststroke. She had her best time of 1 minute, 8.43 seconds while finishing 21st in the Northeast Classic on Jan. 11 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"My best event is the breaststroke, which is funny because of my knees and you have to bend them so much (in the breaststroke)," she said. "The motion is difficult. I did that when I was little. It was my best stroke.
"It's really hard for a lot of younger people because of the legs and the arms. The timing is so difficult to get down. It takes a lot of practice to get the timing down, but honestly a lot of it, I think, is natural. ... Keep working hard and eventually you can get it, but it can take a while to get down."
Coach Whitney McLellan was a top-caliber breaststroker at New Albany. The 2006 graduate won the event in the Division II state meet as a senior in 1:04.73 and was runner-up as a junior in 1:05:45.
"Alaina is more than willing to go above and beyond in her training," McLellan said. "We have changed her technique altogether. She's working with the water instead of against it. That should help her a lot near the end of season when she has her shaved and tapered time."
Bernsdorf agreed that McLellan has helped improve her performances.
"Whitney was a very good breaststroker and to have her helping me is great," Bernsdorf said. "I have learned a lot of technique on my stroke and the timing. She has completely changed my breaststroke turn. It's completely different. It's faster and way more beneficial."
McLellan said Bernsdorf was given a rest from the breaststroke in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet Jan. 25 at Kenyon. She competed in the 50 freestyle (16th, 28.3) and in two relays. She joined Christy Harper, Abigail Bosler and Allie Thompson on the third-place 200 medley relay (1:56.98) and Emma Bolen, Ariana Sanabria and Thompson on the fourth-place 200 free relay (1:47.47).
Bolen, Sanabria, Thompson and Kayla Simashkevich comprised the fourth-place 400 free relay (3:59.31) as the girls team finished fifth (284 points) behind Olentangy Liberty (466), Olentangy Orange (312), Olentangy (296) and Westerville Central (295) and ahead of Westerville South (271).
Bolen was third in the 50 free (26.62) and Emma Weisgerber placed third in diving (325.25). Harper was fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:02.54) and 200 individual medley (2:24.27).
The league meet signals the quickly approaching postseason, which begins for the Warriors with a return to Kenyon for a Division I sectional meet Feb. 8.
Last season, Bernsdorf finished 23rd at district in the 100 breast (1:09.78). She hopes to break through to the state meet this time.
Her brother, 2019 graduate Andrew Bernsdorf, placed third in the 200 IM (1:49.29) and fifth in the 500 free (4:33.6) at state last year.
Andrew is swimming at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Another brother, 2015 graduate Matthew Bernsdorf, also swam collegiately at Ashland.
"I have learned a lot from Andrew," Alaina said. "He was my best friend. ... When I was injured and couldn't play soccer, he told me everything happens for a reason. Maybe I was meant to be back in the pool."
Boys swim team takes second in OCC-Buckeye
Hayden Yeager helped the boys swimming team finish second in the OCC-Buckeye meet with 315 points, behind Liberty (688) and ahead of Orange (268), Olentangy (245), South (175) and Central (173).
Yeager was runner-up in the 200 IM (2:03.37) and fourth in the 100 butterfly (55.58) and was a member of the third-place 400 free relay (3:35.05) with Gabe Charles, Colin Hudnell and Joshua Dewey. He also was on the fourth-place 200 medley relay (1:47.74) with Taylor Sanford, Charles and Paul Buckley.
Alex Hendon, Sanford, Hudnell and Dewey comprised the runner-up 200 free relay (1:39.67).
Charles was third in the 200 free (1:53.11) and Hudnell was fifth in the 500 free (5:22.56).
Girls basketball team wins seventh in a row
The girls basketball team continued its torrid stretch by winning its seventh consecutive game, defeating Olentangy 48-43 on Jan. 24 in OCC-Buckeye play.
The Warriors were 15-3 overall before playing Big Walnut on Jan. 28.
Alyssa Wright led with 16 points against the Braves as North improved to 6-2 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Wright scored 13 points and Imari Martin added 12 in a 53-29 win over Upper Arlington on Feb. 21.
The Division I district draw tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 2.
Below are the coming schedules for the North boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 31 -- At Olentangy Liberty. The Warriors defeated the Patriots 63-43 on Dec. 20.
Feb. 4 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
*Jan. 31 -- Home vs Liberty. The Warriors lost to the Patriots 39-35 on Dec. 20.
Feb. 4 -- At Coffman
*Jan. 30 -- Big Walnut at Capri Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 1 -- Pickerington Central at Westerville Community Center
*Jan. 30 -- Home vs. Olentangy