No lack of vision for Fostoria’s Roberts
Periodically in the team area Thursday, Ashlyn Roberts could be seen putting her goggles on when she would talk to someone.
Keep in mind, the Fostoria senior had been done swimming at the Division II State Swimming and Diving Championships for more than 20 minutes, but she lost her glasses somewhere at the C.T. Branin Natatorium.
The only way for her to see those around her was to hold up her prescription swim goggles.
It may have looked weird to an outsider but it seemed more than appropriate for a young lady who is more comfortable in a pool than on dry land and might very well have chlorine in her veins.
“I love the feeling of how I feel when I swim in the water. I know that sounds so clich but it just clicks with me,” Roberts said. “It’s something I want to do the rest of my life.”
She might have been missing her eyewear but Roberts doesn’t lack vision about her years ahead.
Tears wiped away and more composed than one would expect for someone whose high school career just ended, Roberts was already talking about the future.
“I’m talking to a few colleges and I’m definitely going to swim in college because I love the sport,” Roberts said. “I’m not done yet. I have a lot more goals set for the future so I’m excited for college swimming. I’m just excited about the next step.”
On Thursday, her last step admittedly wasn’t her best one, finishing 23rd overall in the 50 freestyle. But she also understands perspective and seeing the big picture.
“It’s a big accomplishment just getting here and I have to remind myself that I worked hard to get here,” Robert said. “I’ve done what I could. I came in and swam my best and I have to leave it at that, but it’s tough sometimes.”
But you don’t need glasses to admire Roberts’ perspective. She’s put in countless hours to get to this point but she admits it has not always been easy.
“There are definitely days that I’m like ‘I’m really not in the mood to go to practice today. I just want to go home and sleep. I want to eat what I want to eat. I don’t want to be on this crazy diet,” she said.
But Roberts said the minute she gets into the pool, all that goes away.
“But once I get there, I’m glad that I did because it’s really fun being around the atmosphere and the swimmers and all my friends and the coaches,” she said. “I love it.”
It started as a vision from her mother, A. Lynn. Roberts said her mom got her in a pool and into swim lessons when she was 2 years old.
“I was taking lessons because my mom thought it’d be nice if I learned to swim because she never did. She almost drowned once and she made it a point that all of her kids were going to learn how to swim one day,” Roberts said.
Originally involved in competitive gymnastics, Roberts dove into the pool of competitive swimming when she was 7.
“I was a gymnast and I was a really good gymnast and sadly, my coach had to move. She moved away and I couldn’t afford to go two towns away to go to gymnastics practice every day. So someone suggested the swim team,” Roberts said. “The next year I joined the swim team and that’s how it really all started.”
It turned out be a good decision on her mother’s part, although it may not have appeared that way to start.
“I was absolutely horrible at first. Extremely bad. I had no idea what I was doing,” Roberts said.
But a little disappointment didn’t deter her.
“But it really caught on as I got older and I got better,” she said. “I trained harder and I worked for it and worked for it. It just kind of clicked.”
It’s culminated in nearly 15 hours of swim practice a week, in addition to school, homework and playing two other sports: cross country and softball.
“I love athletics. I love swimming. I love competition,” Roberts said. “I love being driven, not only in athletics but in my academics too. I love the feeling of competition and having to work hard.”
Her dedication to her craft and her desire to be the best at everything she touches has left an impression to those around her.
“What it’s done for the swimming program and the school overall is that it’s shown what hard work and dedication will do for you, no matter if it’s in swimming or any other sport,” Fostoria athletic director Aaron Weidner said. “Ashlyn is a girl who has dedicated herself to being a better swimmer and a better athlete. She’s participated in sports to make (herself) better at swimming. She’s practiced on her own, countless hours, and she is the true definition of a hard worker. She’s someone who sets a goal and does what needs to be done. Not what she wants to do but what needs to be done to achieve that goal.
“A lot of kids have taken note of what she’s done and how she’s gotten to where she is today,” he said.
Fostoria coach Amy Stultz said Roberts is someone to be looked up to. She knew she had something special in Roberts long before she made it to the high school in the fall of 2009.
“When Ashlyn puts her mind to it, Ashlyn will give it everything that she has,” Stultz said. “I heard great things not only about her swimming ability but about her and her work ethic and her wanting to do well. I mean, talent is one thing but it takes the perseverance to make it, and she’s got that perseverance.”
So while her high school swim career may be over, she now has her sights set on swimming collegiately. She said she wants to go pre-vet and “hopefully” go to Ohio State University to pursue a doctorate of veterinary medicine.
Maybe the best way to make sure that happens is to tell her she can’t or she’s not good enough to make that dream happen.
“I love being the underdog going into something and having to work my way up to the top of the line. I love that feeling,” Roberts said.
Understandably, Roberts cried after her race. She was more than four-tenths of a second off her school record. This was not how her senior swim season was supposed to end. It was supposed to end with her finishing All-Ohio like she did last year when she placed 14th.
But in dealing with defeat, Roberts showed a maturity and vision that most people don’t possess until their late 20s.
Forty minutes later, Roberts walked out of the natatorium with her goggles on. She was headed to dinner and probably plenty of uncomfortable stares.
Sure, she needed her swim goggles to see, but one had to wonder if she chose her eyewear correctly.
Maybe sunglasses would be more appropriate.
All three and a bright future to boot.