Quaker Valley 6th grader excels at Junior Olympics swim meet

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Sunday, June 27, 2021 | 11:01 AM


At age 5, Amelia Suhayda started swimming just for fun.

Never did she or her parents imagine that six years later, she’d become one of the top swimmers in the country in her age group.

Suhayda, a rising sixth grader in the Quaker Valley School District, recently won two events at the Mid-Atlantic Short Course Junior Olympics and placed second in three others.

She ranks 12th overall in the country in the 11-year-old division.

It was her first major swim meet, and she rose to the occasion.

“Going into the event, I was kind of nervous and I really didn’t know what to expect because I had never been to a meet like that before,” She said. “I really enjoyed it, and I hope to go to it again someday.

“I’ve looked at the (national) list a couple times, and it’s very exciting. It’s kind of crazy to see that I am that high up there.”

Suhayda won the 50- and 100-yard butterfly and was runner-up in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and 100 individual medley.

“I felt pretty good,” Suhayda said of her performance. “I added a little time in some of my races, but I dropped in the 100 fly and 100 freestyle.”

Suhayda represented the Sewickley YMCA at the meet.

She swims for the Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons.

“As a coach, I am so proud of her work ethic, team spirit and drive. Amelia exhibits the Y’s core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility,” said Paula Kwalick, who is the Sewickley Valley YMCA Aquatic Coordinator and head swimming coach. “She shines as both an athlete and teammate. She is hard working and always gives her best. At 11 years old, this is only the beginning for Amelia. I am so excited for what the future holds for her.”

The Sewickley YMCA is where Suhayda got her start in swimming. Originally, her parents, Dave and Stephanie, signed her up for Mommy and Me classes at the YMCA and eventually, she followed her older sister, Abby, onto the swim team.

At first, Suhayda was hesitant and didn’t want to join the swimming team, but came around to the idea a couple weeks after watching her sister. Needless to say, she’s glad she did.

Neither parent was a competitive swimmer, so they were quite surprised to see her excel right away.

“It’s just one of those things where you wonder where kids get it from if their parents aren’t exactly tearing it up in the pool,” Dave Suhayda said. “It’s been exciting to watch her grow.”

Suhayda has some lighter swimming sessions at the Sewickley YMCA this summer before the fall season gears up and she gets back into competitive events.

The Suhaydas are learning as they go, but they are enjoying the ride when it comes to swimming. It’s been an impressive start, and they’re hopeful for a bright future.

“From where she was at 5 years old and she was the novice champion in all of her events at the YMCA up to this meet in York, it’s been fun to watch,” Dave Suhayda said. “We’re excited to see where it takes her.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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