By Rick Morwick
Gracie Marsh got her first taste of the IHSAA State Meet during her freshman season on the Center Grove High School girls swimming team. She competed on a relay.
Now, she has a considerably loftier postseason goal: To return to state in relays and in individual events.
The versatile junior is putting in all the work she can to make it happen.
“II try to treat every practice like a race, and it makes it a lot more fun when I am pushing myself all of the time,” said Marsh, who specializes in mid-distant events. “I like how it is more of an individual sport and that the clock can’t lie.
“All the work you put in shows on the clock, seeing that at the end of the season every year is something I love.”
A three-year varsity standout, Marsh began swimming competitively at age 6 – initially through the Carefree Crocodiles Community, and eventually with the Center Grove Aquatic Club. She began swimming year-round in seventh grade and has fully dedicated herself to the sport ever since.
“I really love the competitiveness of it,” Marsh said. “I also love the family feel of my team. I would not be able to do what I do without them. They are some of my closest friends and we all try to encourage each other every practice and every meet. Everyone is really close, and that it is one of the things I love the most about swimming here (at Center Grove).”
Although Marsh did not qualify for state in any events her sophomore season, she has high expectations for herself – and her team – this season.
Her best individual events are the 200- and 500-yard freestyles and the 100 backstroke. She swims the backstroke leg of the Trojans’ 200 medley relay and is a key member of the 400-yard freestyle relay, the event she competed in at state as a freshman.
She plans to return to state in that event this season as well as other races, including individual events and relays.
“I am really hard on myself, so when I don’t perform my best, it’s easy for me to get down on myself,” Marsh said. “I always try my best to be positive, and never complaining is something I always try and stick to during practice.
“Confidence is something I have struggled with a lot in the past, but I have worked on it a lot in the past year and hope to be more confident and positive with myself this season.”
An honors student who is active in her church and local community, Marsh is an editor for the school yearbook, volunteers at the Humane Society of Johnson County, participates in a Bible study at Emmanuel Church; and enjoys reading and writing in what little free time she has.
As aspiring college swimmer, she is still sorting options but plans to study forensic nursing.
“I have not made any decisions yet, but I have been talking to a few (college) coaches in and out of Indiana,” Marsh said. “I’m not sure where I want to go as of right now, but I am really excited for swimming in college one day.”
For the present, her focus is preparing herself and her team for achieving their ultimate objective: reaching the Feb. 9-10 State Meet at the Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI. Individual sectional champions and sectional relay champions automatically qualify for the finals.
“I think our team has a good chance of getting some events through to state,” Marsh said. “We have really tried to keep positive attitudes. It may seem like a little thing, but it can make the biggest difference in training when everybody is lifting each other up and pushing each other.”
THE MARSH FILE
NAME: Gracie Marsh
EXPERIENCE: Three-year varsity
BEST INDIVIDUAL EVENTS: 200- and 500-yard freestyles, 100 backstroke
RELAYS: 200 medley and 400 freestyle
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “One Tree Hill”
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Lovely Bones and A Cinderella Story
FAVORITE BOOK: The Lovely Bones
COLLEGE PLANS: Wants to swim in college but is still sorting options
PARENTS: Joe and Angie Marsh