Olympic Dream Teen

February 2019
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Ryan Smith Gauthier

Swim sensation Taylor Steele has 2020 visions

When you’ve spent the last 10 years and tens of thousands of yards making turns in pools across the country, it’s nice when the turns streamline into a successful swimming career that could potentially lead you to an Olympic podium.

That sums it up for 18-year-old Taylor Steele, a senior at Carolina Forest High School and a member of Myrtle Beach’s Coastal Aquatic Club. Her results for the 100-meter breaststroke at the Winter Senior Nationals (ages 18 and up) in Greensboro, North Carolina, in December qualified her for the 2020 Olympic Swimming Trials, which will be held in Omaha in June 2020.

“Super far away, but super exciting!” says Taylor. The time cut to qualify was 1:10.99. Taylor’s time was 1:10.91.

That’s the thing about swimming. Every millisecond of your time when you touch that pad could be the difference between making the cut to move on and placing in medal contention or not.

Originally from Ohio, Taylor moved to Myrtle Beach when she was 13. She says she always swam, and began swimming competitively when she was eight. But it wasn’t until 2016, at age 16, that she really started to take swimming seriously.

“It became a real priority and dream for me,” says Taylor. “Which is crazy to think that in two years I’ve made this much progress. Really, the only secret is hard work.”

That hard work, propelled by the adage that practice makes perfect, has paid off. It’s the driving force behind her most recent achievement in the pool, which also includes another December win as the 2018 Junior National Champion in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Former swim accolades include breaking the record in the 100-meter breaststroke (her best stroke) in the short course state finals in February 2018, placing seventh in 2017’s Junior Nationals in California, and winning the 200-meter breaststroke and placing third in the 100 at last year’s senior state sectionals, an open meet in which she was competing against twentysomethings. Needless to say, Taylor’s lane to success is moving at full speed. She will attend the University of South Carolina in the fall on a swim scholarship.

“There are things I’m constantly working on to improve, like my turns and pullouts, which I’ve been told by multiple coaches are awful and need a lot of work,” says Taylor. “And technique is something I am constantly working on.”

She also gives major credit to head coach Fabio Mauro, the coaching staff, and her fellow teammates of the Coastal Aquatic Club, with whom she spends nearly every day of the week.

“They take the time out of their personal lives, even on Sundays, to help swimmers train and work on small technique issues,” says Taylor, “and the team as a whole is great. Everyone cheers for each other and is on the same journey. Training with people every day for years really gets everyone to know each other, and it’s great to have such close friends in this.”

The future is in the water for Taylor. When she’s not swimming with friends or hanging out with friends, she says she’s learning how to surf. But there’s not much time for anything new in her life.

Right now, she’s busy setting her sights on Omaha and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Well, that, and high school graduation and the USC campus, where she’ll be an undecided major, but says she eventually wants to do something in the science field.

“For a career, I want something where I am up and around, not a desk job,” says Taylor.

Something tells us that her professional career, whether it’s in or out of the pool, won’t have her sitting down or staying stagnant for long.

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