Super Swimmer Steals the Show

Senior Discusses Swim Career, Acceptance to MIT


Photo Courtesy of Stella Shipps

Swimming her way to the finish line, senior Stella Shipps competes at the Belton swim meet on Dec. 16. Shipps has been swimming since she was nine and enjoys the sport to this day. “[Swimming] gives me the opportunity to do one of the things I love the most,” Shipps said. “[Through swimming] I am able to improve something about myself every day.”

Abby Cheek and Kaiya Wilkinson

Gliding, treading and chopping, swimmers train day in and day out to travel through water the fastest. Swimming at the local pool over the summer is easy, but professional swimming takes a lot more skill. Swimming has always come naturally to senior Stella Shipps, who started to swim over a decade ago. 

“My mom made me learn how to swim when I was five because it’s a good life skill,” Shipps said. “But at age eight, I started wanting to actually win at the summer league meets. I eventually looked into year-round swimming, and now here I am.”

Shipps then began to swim for all different teams including Cedar Park Typhoons, Twin Creeks Toros, Nitro Swimming, Austin Trinity Aquatics Club, Lost Creek Aquatics and the Cedar Park High School team. Through all these teams she has found a coach who knows her the best and trains her the best.

“I like Coach Geisinger because he’s known me for a long time and he pushes me to my full potential,” Shipps said. “I truly feel like he believes in me.”

Shipps has swum for the high school team for all four years and explained how she wanted a chance to represent something.

“I love to represent something bigger than myself,” Shipps said. “When I was in elementary school, I saw this teenager with a Cedar Park letterman jacket and I knew I wanted to be in athletics in high school. Though I never got a letterman, wearing the timberwolf on my swim cap is enough.”

Speaking of swim caps, swimming may seem like a simple sport but it includes many different parts, not to mention equipment prices can add up to $200 or more. Shipps said her mom has been her greatest cheerleader throughout her swim career thus far. 

“My mom supports me a lot by paying for my club swimming, high school swimming, equipment and suits,” Shipps said. “She also drives me and pays for the hotels and meals at away meets. I really could not be anywhere close to where I am without her. She also cheers me on and records me at meets and pushes me to always try my best and take advantage of my resources.”

Shipps said the support is very necessary and welcomed because swimming is not always as easy as it sounds. As changes are made to the sport, her training changes and becomes more rigorous. 

“Training is very intensive,” Shipps said. “Anyone can learn to keep their head above water and maybe a few strokes, but perfecting technique is super hard. Also, new developments in swimming create even more techniques, so the sport is always evolving. Swim technique is especially hard to master because you have to focus on not drowning while simultaneously swimming fast.”

Shipps said her young talent and motivation stemmed from a young motivation to have a long-lasting future career in the sport. 

“I plan to swim in college because I want a regimented workout routine that allows me to compete,” Shipps said. “I love competing physically, and I’ve done swimming for a long time, so it would make sense for me to continue. I also really like self-improvement in all aspects of my life, and swimming in college would allow me to progress further in the physical aspect of life while progressing in the academic sense.”

Swimming is not the only thing that Shipps excels at, as she has been offered a full ride to MIT for swimming and also for her merit achievements. When she got the acceptance letter from MIT, Shipps said that she was astonished. She said that she even had to take a few moments to process it before realizing what it was.

“I felt great when I learned I got into MIT,” Shipps said. “I didn’t believe it first and had to read the whole letter twice to make sure [it was true]. I got accepted into the Early Action program and I want to go to MIT because I want to have access to the best resources and people in order to grow as much as I possibly can.”

Getting into MIT was no easy feat, Shipps said. She had to balance a social life, swimming life and academic life.

“[Getting into MIT] required some missed social opportunities for studying,” Shipps said. “It took good note-taking and asking questions, [not only that] but a huge help was volunteering, swimming, and being president of the Black student union.”

As she continues her academic career, Shipps plans on majoring in chemical engineering.  With her years of experience managing her school work and swim, she said that she plans to continue the same kind of momentum while attending MIT. 

“I have learned how to balance school and swim,” Shipps said. “I focus on academics first and foremost and [then] swim. I try and remember [swimming and academics] is a process; you won’t always get immediate results, but don’t get discouraged”