Oklahoma high school swimming: Heritage Hall's Gracie Shapard looks to stay on top, win more Class 5A state titles
Gracie Shapard was still in middle school when she started comparing herself to high school swimmers.
Although Shapard was young, she realized she had what it takes to be a state champion.
“I knew that I had pretty good chances to get some gold here and there,” she said.
Shapard has done much more than that.
When the Class 5A state meet begins at Edmond Public Schools Aquatic Center this week, the Heritage Hall junior will attempt to do what she accomplished in each of her first two years of high school – win both of her individual events.
Shapard made a name for herself as a freshman, winning the 100-yard backstroke by nearly four seconds and capturing the gold medal in the 100 freestyle.
She had a great sophomore season and appears to be even better heading into the third state meet of her career.
She breezed past her competition at the Class 5A West Regional in Edmond, winning the 100 freestyle in 55.45 seconds and 100 backstroke in 59.57.
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Heritage Hall coach Jared Prince has a good feeling about how Shapard will perform at the prelims Monday and finals on Tuesday.
“It was her fastest regional of her career,” Prince said. “She’s set up to really hit her goals at state. At regionals, she swam nearly as fast as she did at state last year. When we check in at that point of her training cycle, usually it’s not that fast. And we had not started resting yet, so we’re pretty excited.”
This swimming season has been a lot different for Shapard and swimmers throughout the state.
Heritage Hall competed in roughly half as many meets than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the unusual year, Shapard feels as confident as she ever has.
“This season has had its ups and downs with the coronavirus and everything, but as a team, we’ve stayed strong,” she said. “I think that I’ve gotten a lot better this season than previous seasons.”
Along with winning four individual state titles, Shapard has helped Heritage Hall claim three relay championships.
She focuses on her individual goals, such as improving her times, but also accepts a leadership role in the program.
“She’s an incredibly positive leader,” Prince said. “She really looks to hype up her teammates first. But when it comes time for her to race, she takes that extremely serious.”
Reporter Nick Sardis covers high school sports across the Oklahoma City metro and state. Have a story idea for Nick? He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @nick_sardis. Support Nick’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe or by using the link at the top of this page.