PLYMOUTH – The record book for the Plymouth swimming program reads like the biography of Ella Derby.
Even though the program is just two years old, some of the incredible times that the Plymouth North senior has posted will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
“Ella Derby is a rock star in the swimming pool. She’s a tremendous swimmer, but she’s even a better human being,” said Plymouth swimming Head Coach Kenna Melkonian about Derby, a National Honor Society student who was also one of the team’s six captains. “There were a ton of kids in the program this season just learning really how to swim and Ella was always so generous in sharing tips that she’s learned over the years with her teammates to help make them better swimmers.
“If you want a role model for teammates to follow, it’s Ella Derby.”
Her legacy in the pool is quite astounding. Derby will graduate in the spring as the school record holder in the 200 Freestyle, 200 IM, 100 Freestyle, 100 Backstroke, and the 100 Breaststroke individual events as well as three relays: 200 Medley, 200 Freestyle, and 400 Freestyle.
Derby’s also taken care of business inside of the classroom. She’s vice-president of the National Honor Society and is also a member of the Yearbook Committee as well as the Intergenerational Debate Club.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE PROGRAM
Derby, 18, started swimming with Jay Craft’s Kingfish Swimming program out of Kingston when she was 7 years old. After she dipped her toe in the water, she was hooked.
“There’s something about swimming that’s always struck a chord with me. I love it,” Derby said. “My dad was a college swimmer, so my parents have had me in the pool for as long as I can remember.”
While swimming could be considered an individual sport, it’s being part of a team that Derby has really enjoyed over the past two years with the Plymouth North/Plymouth South combined swimming squad.
“When I heard there was a chance we could have a high school swim team, I was really excited about the opportunity to represent my community as part of a team,” Derby said. “I knew there were so many kids in the high school, like myself and my younger brother Nate, who were club swimmers. I knew we’d have strong numbers because there’d be an interest with the club kids as well as some other athletes in school who wanted to give swimming a try.”
Derby’s best events have evolved into the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke as well as the 200- and 400-yard IM events. She made it all the way to the Division 1 state finals in the 200 IM (2:04.97) and the 100 breaststroke (1:03.77), coming in second place in both races to Chicopee Comprehensive senior Ella Smith.
“My goal was to get to states and represent Plymouth as best I could,” said Derby. Her times helped Plymouth place 13th as a team at the Division 1 finals. “It was a nice way to wrap up my high school swimming career.”
ALWAYS AN EAGLE
While her high school swimming career has ended, Derby still has four years of time in the pool ahead of her in college. She has decided to attend Boston College and will try to earn a spot with the Division 1 swimming program. She plans to study Biology.
“I started hearing from potential colleges at the end of my sophomore year and Boston College was the one that jumped out at me,” Derby said. “(Because of COVID limitations) things were limited to phone calls, zoom calls, and emails for most of my junior year. When I was eventually able to visit the school, I really liked the campus and I was impressed by the coaches as well as the other girls on the team.”
Derby competes year-round in the pool with the Kingfish program. The 15- to 18-year-old New England Championships are coming up, as is the Junior Nationals. She’s also traveled to Iceland to compete as part of the International Games.
“Swimming in Iceland was the craziest thing,” Derby said. “It was such an incredible experience to go over there. I’ve been very lucky with the different places I’ve been able to see because of the opportunities that swimming has opened doors to.”
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