When Ainsley Delbridge was seven years old, her mother, Barb Delbridge, took her to watch a swim meet at Brook Valley Country Club. And she hasn’t looked back since.
“I’ve been swimming at Brook Valley since I was little,” says 16-year-old Ainsley. “But I was afraid to do swim team. When I saw how much fun it was, and how all the kids were cheering each other on, I decided to try it.”
Now, she spends every single day in the water. She’s an all-year swimmer at East Carolina Aquatics, swims on Brook Valley’s summer team, and also started her high school’s swim team, which went to the state championships in their division. Last year, she was named conference swimmer of the year. She has daily, two-hour practices and during certain times of the year, she’ll have two practices a day. Oh, and she also gives swimming lessons at Brook Valley.
“Swimming is 100 percent part of my life,” says Ainsley, whose favorite swim event is “anything freestyle.”
Ainsley and her mom credit her first coach and swim manager at Brook Valley, Kelly Makepeace, who was a collegiate swimmer at East Carolina University, for the encouragement to consider all-year swimming.
“Kelly told Ainsley she had what it took for all-year swimming,” says Barb. “Brook Valley’s summer swim team was absolutely the platform that launched her into this. The way it brings those kids together is just so fun to see.”
“The Brook Valley swim team is really more like a family,” says Ainsley. “Everyone is there to support and cheer each other on. Some of us are 16 and some are seven years old. No matter what, we’re standing there on the side of the pool, pushing each other to get to the next level.”