Athlete Spotlight: Shelby Self


Swimming is usually one of the last sports that come to mind when you think of things to do in the winter. To competitive swimmers, however, swimming is more than just summer recreation. It is a year-round occupation.

Senior Shelby Self has been swimming competitively since she was eight years old when she joined her first summer league swim team. Her talent and love of swimming was immediately recognized early on. Self continued to swim during the summers and for White Station Middle School during the year. She took another step up in eighth grade when she joined the Memphis Tigers competitive swim team.

Typically, competitive swimmers practice anywhere from seven to ten times a week. Self’s practice regimen is about half that—three or four times a week—and she still maintains her place as one of the top swimmers in Memphis.

All of Self’s practices pay off when she competes in school swim meets, almost always placing first or second place in her events. “Competition-wise, I’m kind of a perfectionist. If I don’t get first or second I really beat myself up about it,” Self said.

For USA swim meets, the competition is tighter and the swimmers are all year-round athletes vying for recognition from colleges or personal records. Self usually places in the top eight in these meets, an incredible feat. At a recent USA meet, Self placed fifth out of twenty-six swimmers in the 100 meter freestyle event and twelfth out of fifty in the 200 meter freestyle.

Her favorite events to swim are the 100 meter butterfly and the 100 meter freestyle. Self has made the state tournament cut since seventh grade. She has been to the state meet all four years of high school in the 50 meter freestyle, 100 meter butterfly and 100 meter freestyle.

“I love swimming, but I get burnt out really easily, and I don’t want to go to college based on a sport that I may or may not want to pursue for four years,” Self said. Despite Self’s talent and various colleges attempting to recruit her, she is not planning to swim in college.

“The awesome thing about swimming is that you have the team sense of it… but it boils down to my time, my swimming ability, and how fast I go.”