LORETTO, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Baily Trettel lived the life of a swimming nomad during her high school career at Moniteau, traveling wherever she could to compete, latching on to whatever team would have her.
It was very difficult being an independent swimmer — Moniteau doesn’t have a team. Trettel had to work the connections she cultivated with her club team, Racer X Aquatics, just to land pool time and opportunities to swim in high school meets.
It was exhausting for Trettel. It was also lonely.
She didn’t realize just how isolated she was and felt until now.
That’s because now she’s on a team — a real team — at Division I Saint Francis University. She has teammates who wear the same team colors as her.
The 2021 Moniteau graduate finds that exhilarating.
“It’s so much more fun,” Trettel said. “It’s made me love swimming more. It was no fun for me in high school, swimming all by myself. When you have a team, they’re all behind you, and they’re on your side, and you’re doing it for them. In high school, I was doing it for me.”
Trettel could only swim in an average of three regular-season meets per year during her high school career, tagging along with Knoch, Slippery Rock, and Riverside for a competition here and there. She only did that so she could establish times to qualify for the District 9 Class 2A meet.
Going to those meets, though, just made her feel more alone.
“I’d just slip into a heat with the boys or the girls,” Trettel said. “I would see all the other teams sitting together, laughing and talking with their friends on the team, and I was just sitting by myself. That wasn’t very fun, and you always swim better when you’re having fun.”
During her senior season, COVID-19 made finding competitions even more challenging. But, she did it and won district crowns in the 100-yard backstroke and the 100-yard freestyle to advance to the PIAA swimming and championships at Bucknell University.
Those were her fifth and sixth district titles in her career as a nomad. As a sophomore, she won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, and as a junior, claimed district crowns in those two events again.
She didn’t get a chance to swim at the state meet in 2020 when the PIAA swimming championships were canceled because of COVID-19.
Not bad for swimmer without a pool or a team.
“I had to motivate myself, which was hard for me sometimes,” Trettel said. “I swam for my club team, but the high school stuff was different. No one from the school really understood. My friends wanted me to do well, obviously, but they didn’t really understand it.”
Trettel placed 11th in the 100 backstroke and 12th in the 100 freestyle at the state meet this past March.
With Saint Francis, Trettel is embarking on another swimming journey — this time with lots of friends.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve really realized what I was missing out on in high school,” Trettel said. “Now, I have this whole support system with all these girls who are going through the same thing. It’s so much different. We’re so close already. I’ve already made life-long friends.”
In the pool, Trettel’s schedule has been grueling.
The wakeup calls come early. The bedtimes come late. Such is life at a Division I program.
Trettel wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“We’re practicing 16 hours a week,” Trettel said. “I lift Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 a.m, and we swim Tuesday mornings at 5:30 a.m. And then, we swim every night from 3-5.”
Because of that intense schedule, Trettel isn’t overly concerned with her times at this point early in the season, especially as a freshman.
“Our bodies are so broken down right now,” Trettel said. “My times aren’t where I want them to be, but it’s also really early in the season and we’ve been really training hard. I’m not upset about it. I’m just trying to get into the groove of things.”
It’s a long season; The Red Flash has already competed three times — once in the conference — and the campaign doesn’t wrap up until February.
Plenty of time for Trettel to whittle those times down and get to where she wants to be.
“In practice, I feel like I’m going faster and I can do harder intervals,” Trettel said. “I can definitely see improvement, and I definitely feel stronger now, but I’m not going to see any improvement in meets until probably December.
“This is what I’ve always been working for,” Trettel added. “Going to a D-I school is really a lot of fun.”