Freshman Phenom Torches 8 Year Old Record


Addy Szakaly poses by the Swim and Dive record board at John Adams High School.

Adele Zyniewicz, Reporter

Last Tuesday, the freshman swimmer, Addy Szakaly hopped into the water before her race in the 100 yard backstroke in the swim and dive meet against Penn High School, she knew this race would be the one where she would break the school record she’s been shooting for. For a freshman, this position could create tension or anxiety, Szakaly felt these mind consuming emotions, but not because she was about to take her shot at breaking an 8 year old school record. Instead, she was focused on trying to keep her lunch down. Szakaly had one goal in mind, one she has been chasing since the beginning of the season. As soon as the official blew his whistle, she threw her arms back and forcefully kicked off the wall. As teammates and spectators cheered her on, Szkalay reached for the wall on her last stroke of the race and the crowd erupted. She watched as her friends high fived each other and congratulated her from the poolside. Josh Skubee, the John Adams Girl’s Swimming head coach, was filled with pride. The parents of Adams’ swimmers applauded Szakaly as they turned to observe the record board on the side of the pool deck. The announcer exclaimed over the mic “Freshman Addy Szakaly has broken the 100 backstroke school record!” 

Addy Szakaly, a 14 year old, 5-foot-9, has been swimming for 7 years. When she first touched the pool at 7 years old, surprisingly, she recalls feeling no passion for the water. Beginning at South Bend Swim Club, Szakaly was often caught messing around and slacking off. She had pushed her Coach’s buttons so far at one point, he threatened to kick her off the team. Instead of viewing this situation as a sign to quit, Szakaly immediately decided to reset and shift her focus to swimming. She began to show up to practice and give it her all. Szakaly started excelling in the water and medaled at the USA Swimming State Championship when she was the ripe age of 13. In March of 2022, Szakaly achieved her first Futures cut; this event is a national swimming competition which is held for elite athletes in Greensboro, North Carolina. The swim meet consists of swimmers of all ages, so for 14 year old Szakaly, this was an incredible accomplishment. In the 8th grade, Szakaly was faced with choosing which high school she wanted to attend the following year. This is where she would compete in her sport and, hopefully, continue her prestigious training. Her club team is closely affiliated with Riley High School, the head coach remaining the same for both teams. Szakaly mentions, “a few girls tried to convince me to swim for the different teams,” but Szakaly was drawn to the John Adams atmosphere. She grew up in the Penn Harris School District. The Penn High School swim team has numerous elite athletes and consists of girls who went to the Olympic Trials in 2021, but despite the opportunity to swim with these athletes, Szakaly also wanted to branch out into her other interests at John Adams. She now is part of the show choir and enjoys having the opportunity to participate with the other members. 

The girls head coach at John Adams, Josh Skubee, was excited to coach Szakaly. Coming into the season, Skubee, understanding the importance of fun, wanted her to have an enjoyable season. Although, he knew some of her previous times exceeded some of the current records, so he wanted to push her. Skubee and Szakaly made it a goal to achieve a record within reach at the first meet of the season. She did not reach any time marks that time around, according to Skubee, this “became a little bit of a mental barrier.” Skubee began to turn towards the details that could significantly improve Szakaly’s swimming. He says, “I tried to get her loose, she needed to get tempo work done because her arms weren’t moving when they should have been or as fast as they should have been.” Despite recent hindering illnesses, putting in the work was no problem for Szakaly. Skubee became impressed and appreciative of Szakaly’s attitude when he began to coach her. He commented that she is “the one person, in the pool, every single day, that wants to be here.”  The young athlete enjoys swimming with teammate Willa Kirchef, a freshman at Adams, and utilizes the competition she provides when the two race each other. Szakaly also loves the atmosphere the John Adams swim team has created and is not so enthused about the season coming to an end. Skubee, on the other hand, looks forward to the next four years with the superstar. He believes she raises the level of competition in practices and is excited to see how far her “hunger for training and success” can take Szakaly in swimming.

Szakaly, only four days after she broke her first record at John Adams, went on to break her second record in the 200 yard Individual Medley at the Northern Indiana Conference swim meet. This record was set only two years ago by a freshman, but is still an enormous achievement for Szakaly. She hopes to continue her athletic career in college, hoping to attend the University of Notre Dame, or an out of state school. Post college, Szakaly would like to pursue coaching as well as the medical field in pediatrics.