Of the five Robinson children, the youngest – 11-year-old Emily – had seemed to be the least interested in swimming competitively.
So much so that older sister Aubrey had a message for her, according to their mother, Anne.
“It’s funny because Aubrey told Emily a couple years ago that she needed to be more competitive,” Anne said.
The elder Robinson’s words sunk in, as Emily has responded with wins in Aiken-Augusta Swim League competition, state events and even a recent sectional meet at Georgia Tech.
Emily said she just wanted to follow in her elder siblings’ wake. Her oldest sister, 21-year-old Jessica, is a swimmer at Gardner-Webb, and 18-year-old Grant, 15-year-old Aubrey and 13-year-old Michael have all swum competitively as well.
“Well, my older sisters and brothers swam, so I wanted to try,” Emily said.
Anne Robinson said the accomplishments were a result of specific time goals that Emily set and began to work toward. That training with the ASL had Emily feeling confident heading into her biggest meets, and she won the 500-meter freestyle and placed third in the 200-meter version in the state meet, also held at Georgia Tech.
“Well, I’ve been training really hard, so I thought I had a little chance,” she said.
Emily said that her goal the 500-meter freestyle race was to break 5:48 for the 20-lap event at the sectional, which encompasses the top swimmers from about a dozen southeastern states. Not only did she match that time, but she cleared the field by 10 seconds, which surprised her.
“It was kind of scary at first, but it got a lot better,” she said of racing at such a high-profile venue, where she also placed second in the 200-meter race by a fraction of a second, posting a time of 2:13.19.
Even though Emily, who’s home-schooled, won the 500-meter race, Anne said she could tell the youngster wasn’t in a hurry to race the 20 laps again anytime soon.
“She was very excited and was glad the race was over,” Anne said.
And while she’s excelled in finding her competitive streak and set ASL records in both the 200- and 500-meter freestyle races, Emily is still motivated by other factors in the swimming world.
“I like to hang around my teammates and to have fun,” she said.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.