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tBBC Making The List: Kelly Ann Baird


Making The List: Kelly Ann Baird
via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


With the warmer months upon us for whatever it is that propels my decision making I have decided to go toward the choice of a swimmer in ‘Making the List’ for this week. It seems logical. Swimming is a fantastic sport and it’s very thought refreshes us from the onslaught of heat that will soon be boring down onto us as summer arrives.

Kelly Ann Baird was born and raised in Lexington, North Carolina, attending West Davidson High School. It was there that she swam as a distance freestyler – decorated as a 10-time state champion and a nine-time All-American. She would be voted as the most valuable swimmer three times during her high school career. In 2009 she was a member of the Junior Pan Pacific Team. In 2010 she would be included as a member of the National Youth Team

Kelly came to The Ohio State University in 2011. As a freshman she had first-place touches in the 200 freestyle and 200m backstroke in her first meet as a Buckeye versus Kenyon (Oct. 30); recording victories at Ohio University (December 2011) and the Shamrock Invite (Jan. 28-29, 2012) in the 100 and 1650 freestyle, respectively. She competed in the 2011 Big Ten championships in the 1650 freestyle with a team best time of 16:26.52.

As a sophomore (2012) Kelly ranked first on the Buckeye depth chart in three events – 500 m freestyle, 1000 m freestyle and 1650 m freestyle. She placed seventh at the Big Ten championships in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 16:15.20 – also competing in the 500 m freestyle at the Big Ten, finishing at # 8. She would be one of ten women on The Ohio State University’s team to qualify for the NCAA championships. She competed at NCAAs in the 1650 m freestyle as well as the 500 m freestyle. There she posted nine individual wins, increasing her career total to 15.

As a junior (2013): Kelly held The Ohio State University’s fastest time in two events – 1000 m and 1650 m freestyle and was part of the 200 m medley relay, which finished fourth at the 2013 Big Ten Championships in a time of 1:37.89. She also competed in the 200 freestyle, 500 m freestyle and 1650 m freestyle at the Big Ten Championship – earning two personal best times over the course of the season: 50 m backstroke (27.66) and 200 m freestyle (1:49.30).

Kelly Ann Baird was primarily a distance freestyle specialist and qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400 m freestyle, 800 m-freestyle and 200 m-backstroke. She successfully squared points in three Big Ten Championship meets in her Buckeye career.

Just short of completion of a four-year swimming career at Ohio State, Kelly Ann Baird – her senior year she failed to reach the finals in any of her events and earned no points at the Big Ten Championships. This was the first time this ever occurred in her life. She was them approached by Ohio State Women’s Rowing Coach Andy Teitelbaum approached her – offering her an opportunity to row for the Buckeyes.

She was far from over!

Baird would recall: “Leading up during that whole season, I was supposed to make it to the NCAAs,” Baird said. “I was doing really well, and my times were the best they’d ever been. Every athlete wants to finish her career on a high note and know she put it all in the pool. My teammates knew I tried my best, but for me, it just was not enough. It was sad to leave the sport on a note like that.”

Rowing, then, must’ve been looking good.

“The first day, I just could not figure it out,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘This is never going to work.’ These girls had their very first race in a few weeks, and I’m in their boat messing up their practices.”

But Baird quickly went from hopeless to helpful. She even discovered how to overcome the typical rookie mistake that causes a boat to drop dead in the water, known as catching a crab.

“You’re supposed to feather the blade as you pull it toward you to make it parallel to the water. But if you do it too quickly, it gets caught underwater,” Baird said. “The whole boat has to stop for that one person to get her blade out. But I got really good, to the point where I was able to get my blade out quick so the boat wouldn’t stop.”

Baird went on to race novice in the Big Ten Championships, finishing third to earn her first collegiate sport medal. The team as a whole took first, and each member received a championship ring. Her frustrations over the way her swimming career ended dissipated.

The mind shift was complete. When Baird swam relays, the strongest, fastest athletes were chosen. In rowing, the women who can best move the boat in unison make the cut.

Kelly continues to hold the record for the Women @ The Ohio State University in the 1,000 m Freestyle: 9: 46.94 set in 2012

In the 1,650 Freestyle she lists as 2nd: with a time of 16:15.20 – also set in 2012

Kelly Ann Baird to me represents a strong spirit that is driven by perfection. She was the best at swimming during her involvement. When that time came to an end she did not just sit back and relish on past memories. She made new ones – and in a new sport. Kelly Ann Baird is the definition of what it is to be a Buckeye. She has that fight in her heart and soul that will have her successful in all that she decides to do. She is deserving of recognition as a great Buckeye and I am proud to include her – How in the world can I not?

The post Making The List: Kelly Ann Baird appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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