Keeping Up With Claire

Sarah Natchipolsky, Sports Managing Editor

Few high schoolers are willing to get up at 4:30 a.m. on a weekday, and even fewer are willing to get up that early to swim laps in the freezing water for an hour before school. Junior Claire Lyhus is one of the exceptions as a member of the RHS varsity swim team.

Lyhus has accomplished much during her time here at RHS. Last year at the Metropolitan Championships (Metros), Lyhus placed 18th out of 25 with a time of 1:05:78 in 100 m freestyle, and placed 16th out of 26 at Regional Championships with a time of 28.94 in 50 m freestyle. She made it to the Maryland State Championships, both her freshman and sophomore year for relays.

“The fact that I was in relays [at states] made it even more fun because you’re in a group and you get to cheer each other on,” Lyhus said.

Lyhus has loved the sport of swimming all her life. She began swimming at age five and competing at age eight. She has swam for the Flower Valley Swim Club as well as the Rockville Montgomery Swim Club (RMSC).

“I like the fact that swimming is an individual sport yet it’s also a team sport so you get to reach your own goals but you also get the team spirit,” Lyhus said.

RHS varsity swimming head coach James Castonguay says that he admires Lyhus’ work ethic and attitude.

“Claire is very coachable. She is receptive to suggestion and willing to do whatever I ask her to do,” Castonguay said. “Her determination is one of her biggest strengths. She works through setbacks and tries her best at all times.”

Teammates describe Lyhus as a dedicated, team oriented swimmer who enjoys the sport and the team environment.

“She’s a really nice and helpful teammate. She goes to almost every practice, meet and team dinner,” sophomore swimmer Zoe Moser said.

Throughout her swimming career, Lyhus has suffered several shoulder injuries. At age 13, she underwent shoulder surgery to repair loose ligaments in her right shoulder. This past August, she had surgery on her left shoulder to repair a tear in her labrum, a bone spur and loose ligaments. Before her first surgery, Lyhus competed with RMSC year-round. Now she competes with RHS in the winter and swims and coaches for Flower Valley in the summer. Lyhus expects that swimming this season she will not only be focused on competing, but on recovering from her surgery as well.

“Swimming’s kind of like a healing sport and I feel like once I’m cleared to swim it’ll help my shoulder get some movement and it’ll help it heal,” she said.

This season, Lyhus’ coach and teammates look forward to seeing what she will be able to do and how far she can progress.

“Claire has been very consistent in her time on the team. She will give a maximum effort every time and works hard to improve in each race,” Castonguay said. “I expect the same hard work and effort as well as her usual strong performance in meets.”