West Valley High School senior Sadie Langford went back into the pool this fall after a three-year hiatus and did well enough to advance to the state swim competition last month.
Langford said she was previously on a local swim team for five years but quit to do track in her freshman year of high school. She was in track as a sophomore, too, when she also added cross country running. But she was sidelined by an injury after her junior year.
She injured her IT band, which runs from hip to knee and provides stability to the knee. She was also diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease, which happens when a growth spurt causes a painful bump on the shinbone below the knee.
“I grew too fast,” Langford said. She’s grown more than 6 inches since her freshman year and most of that was last year, she said.
She knew she could go back to swimming, but there was a catch. West Valley doesn’t have a swim team.
Langford said she knew of someone who was a one-person swim team at West Valley previously. “I knew it was a thing I could do,” she said. “I realized I wasn’t going to be better by track season.”
And so the arrangements were made. Langford trained with the Cheney High School swim team but competed for West Valley in swim meets.
“I went out to Cheney every day,” she said. “At first it wasn’t bad, but then on the way home every day I was sitting in rush hour traffic.”
Her swimming muscles were out of shape but she was soon swimming 4,000 to 5,000 meters – about 3 miles – a day in practice.
“The first few weeks were really difficult,” she said. “I was super tired all the time. They put me in the fastest lane after three days. It pushed me, a lot.”
She competed in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley, which combines 50 yards each of the butterfly, backstroke, breast stroke and freestyle. When she got to her first meet she was surprised to see that they had gotten her previous best 100-yard backstroke time from several years ago and posted it.
“It was the fastest time I’d ever swam before,” she said of her old mark. She was hoping to come close to that time, but she ended up beating it.
“The first time I swam it was five seconds faster,” she said.
She placed second in the district competition in the backstroke and third place in the 200 IM, which guaranteed her a spot in the state competition. It was a two-day event, with the preliminaries the first day and the top 16 (out of 24) advancing to the finals on the second day.
“I was not expecting to make it to the second day,” she said.
But make it she did, in both events. She ended up taking 13th in the backstroke and 16th in the 200 IM.
“It went pretty well,” she said. “I got to race both my races twice.”
Despite her success, Langford said she doesn’t plan to continue swimming. She said the reason she quit the sport the first time was because it was too focused on winning.
“My coach wanted me to look at swimming in college,” she said. “I just want to do stuff for fun.
“It just feels good to get out and exercise. I’ve always been an active person. I just did the swimming for fun. I just happened to be decent at it.”
She said her injury not only put her back in the pool but it also pushed her out of her comfort zone. She tried out for a theater production and got the part. She’s currently in a second production, playing Mysterious Woman in “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
“At first I was pretty upset about it, but I would say it’s a good thing,” she said of her injury. “I used to be pretty stuck.”
Now Langford is planning her return to her running shoes, which she hasn’t touched since June.
“I’m thinking of doing track, so I have to start training,” she said.
That is, unless she gets the part in an upcoming school musical she plans to try out for. If she gets that, the running shoes stay in the closet until another day.