Tarboro junior Chandler Harris knew long before the NCHSAA 2-A state meet that she wasn’t going to meet expectations.
Neither the ones other people had for her nor the ones she had for herself. When she climbed out of the pool in early February, she was satisfied with her finishes and her season.
But two months later, after being named the Telegram’s 2011-12 All-Area Girls’ Swimmer of the year for the second year in a row, Harris – a perfectionist – wasn’t nearly as pleased, despite improving on her overall placing.
“That’s what happens in an individual sport,” she said. “You are never satisfied. It’s just me. I can’t depend on anybody but myself.”
Harris dreaded the tweets and text messages that were bound to come as soon as the state meet finished.
Did you win? People would ask.
“I was going to have to say no,” Harris said. “That was not something I wanted to have to say.”
For anyone else, three top-six finishes at the state meet would be an incredible accomplishment. It’s still a great accomplishment for Harris, but she wanted more. She had been brought up to always work hard, and her coach had pushed her in that same
Harris received the message twice because her mother and her coach happen to be the same person.
“We’re not quitters,” said Tarboro coach Maggie Harris, who was proud of her daughter’s performance. “When you do something, you do it full-out and to the best of your ability.”
Chandler Harris did exactly that this season.
At the state meet, she finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle (25.57) and third in the 100 fly (1:00.00) – both times were less than a second slower than the previous year. She also anchored Tarboro’s 200 freestyle relay to a sixth-place finish (1:49.72), which was the best in school
“I gave it everything I had,” said Harris, who didn’t lose a race before the regional championship. “Even though my times weren’t good, I knew I had tried and given everything I had.”
Last season, she finished third in the fly but second in the freestyle. Everybody expected her to have a chance to win this year, even her, but with everything else she decided to do, she said she might have tired out.
“Maybe I overworked myself this year, with the weights and the cross training,” Chandler Harris said. “I expected if I kept doing more and more that I would get faster. It had the opposite effect.”
Any day Harris wasn’t in the pool, she was at the gym, which usually included two or three miles on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the elliptical and another 10 minutes on the stair-stepper.
“I practiced every chance I could,” Chandler Harris said.
She did leg presses and box jumps to tone her lower body and improve her push-offs. She’d throw 10-pound balls and rotate weights with her shoulders to improve her upper-body strength.
Along with the intense workout routine, Harris also plays on the varsity soccer team at Tarboro and is taking three Advanced Placement courses plus pre-calculus. She finished as first runner-up in the Edgecombe County Junior Miss competition, which requires extensive community outreach.
Throw in dancing at a local studio, National Honor Society and hours of community service, and Harris’ schedule is almost always full.
“Maybe she’ll pick up volleyball,” Maggie Harris sarcastically said.
With all that considered, is there a chance Chandler Harris is satisfied with her accomplishments?
“Probably not,” Harris said with a laugh.”I just don’t like to lose. I’m very competitive. I don’t like to lose. I always expect too much of myself.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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