ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) –Guilford High School has a rich tradition of great swimmers. Two current swimmers at the school have become a part of it with their record-setting seasons.
They call a group of fish a school, and this school is led by two strong swimmers. Mikayla Durkin and Ella Gasparini, and these two are best of friends.
“We’ve been friends since we were four or five and we’ve just remained really close ever since then,” said Gasparini. “Obviously swimming in high school has made that a lot better too, and we swim club together, so we spend a lot of time together.”
“Yeah we know everything about each other,” chimed in Durkin.
Not only are they best friends, they’re also each other’s greatest motivators.
“All summer we practice all morning, and then we go off, go to work, do all of our stuff, but every morning we’d be on top of it,” said Durkin. “We’d be practicing hard, and we did this for years, and then we’d come back to school and we’d practice hard. It’s just nonstop.”
Guilford’s rich tradition of elite swimmers includes Andrea Lund and Lisa Coole. They set swimming records decades ago, but these two Vikings made it their mission to break those records, and they did just that.
“They walked in and they said we’re going to get those goals and that’s it,” said Guilford coach Dawn Durkin.
As of this season Gasparini has broken three records, the 100 meter breastroke, varsity and pool, which have been held for 35 years. She also broke the 200 IM pool record which was set back in 2014. Durkin broke the 50 meter freestyle pool record, a record set 28 years ago.
“Lisa Coole, she’s known around here, everyone knows her, talks about how nice she was of a person,” said Durkin. “Breaking her record, it’s crazy because they all looked up to this girl. They all talk about her. They all know her, and then I broke her record? It’s just a big accomplishment.”
“Right after she breaks this record, and I see her working hard all season, being so focused, I get that hug. That, ‘So proud of you, Mikayla.’ That big, huge love-hug. I’m just so proud of her,” said coach Durkin.
Unable to meet the swimmers whose records they broke, these two swimmers are starting a new tradition within the program to leave a note to anybody that breaks their records in the future.
“I think that’s the legacy we’re going to carry on is they’re going to leave a note,
said Durkin. “And we’re going to put it in a file so that when someone breaks one of their records they’ll write a note to that person congratulating them, because you never know where they’ll be by then.”