Plant High School swimmer calls qualifying for Olympic Trials a “new step” in her journey


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Ella Bathurst: “I’ve been swimming since I was 6 years old so a really long time.”

8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley: “What do you like the most about the sport?”

Ella Bathurst: “I like to race so I like going to competitions and suiting up for races.”

Ella Bathurst, on the block in lane six, ahead of the 100-meter freestyle finals at
Junior National Championships in California

Ella speaks like a true athlete. She was born to compete and, ironically, she was also born into a swimming family.

“I got into swimming because both of my parents actually swam in college,” she told me.

Her parents swam at the University of Minnesota and they swam at the Olympic Trials.

Ella is following in their footsteps while writing her own story. She said she would like to swim at the collegiate level and, at the age of 15 before the start of her junior year at Plant High School, she has already qualified for the trials.

I asked her to describe her training schedule to me.

“It is pretty crazy,” Ella admitted. “We have practice once every day, maybe even twice, and then we lift or dry land three times every week so it is pretty packed plus school and everything. It gets pretty busy!”

Ella will compete in the 200-meter freestyle event at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, in June. She qualified for that race at a recent meet, the Junior National Championships, in California.

“I was like, ‘I can do this!’ and, normally, before you race, you try not to stress too much so you take deep breaths and you do your warm-ups and everything,” she said. “But I was kind of stressed out!”

Ella walked me through the moments following that race.

“I touch the wall and, before I even turn around and look at the board, I can hear Lexie and Brendan and my coach and Tommy all screaming,” said Ella.

Elle, in the middle, with her friends and teammates:
Lexie Mulvihill, on the left, and Brendan Driscoll, on the right

“I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. This is either really good or really bad,’” she continued to tell me. “So I turn around and I look and I saw that I got my time and I was so excited. Getting out of the water and feeling dead, your legs feel like jelly almost, and then going to the podium, was just so fun.”

She told me “fun” is the name of the game for her.

“Ever since I was little, I feel like every person who swims, their goal is to make Olympic Trials and eventually make an Olympic team,” Ella told me. “So it is awesome to have this new step in my journey.”

If you are aware of a local athlete, coach, or team with a special story, I want to tell it. You can reach me at my email address,

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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