Beulah’s Arnett has sights on big performance at state swim meet

Published 1:13 pm Friday, December 1, 2023

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For most athletes, their sport has been a major part of their lives. For Lacey Grace Arnett, the sport she loves has become an integral part of her everyday journey, and it has helped to define Arnett as a person. 

Arnett has had a dominant early run in her swimming career. After placing third in the state in the 100-meter breaststroke as a sophomore, Arnett is set to make her return to the state meet on Friday after placing first in the 100-meter at sectionals. 

Arnett also placed fourth in the 50-meter freestyle and will compete in freestyle at the state meet as well. Arnett won the 100-meter breaststroke with a 1.11 time at sectionals. That marked a season-best, and it was just two seconds off of the career-best she set as a sophomore. 

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“I’ve been consistent with practicing a lot more over the past two years,” Arnett said. “Last year was the first year that I kind of had a big performance.” 

Arnett is set to compete as the fourth seed in the 100-meter breaststroke at the state meet on Friday and the ninth seed in the 50-meter freestyle. The competition is for all qualified swimmers in 1A-5A. 

To win at state, Arnett first has to place within the top eight at the prelims on Friday. Then, Arnett will have a chance to win the state meet in the finals on Saturday. 

For Arnett, swimming has been a major part of her life, but it has also been a complete family affair. Arnett’s father, Rusty Arnett, serves as Beulah’s swim coach and strength and conditioning coach. Arnett’s mother, Angela Arnett, has also been there throughout the process helping with the travel to meets outside of the high school program. 

As a father, Rusty Arnett has become even closer to his daughter throughout her swimming journey. Their trips to swim states all around the state have given the two a chance to spend extra time together. With Lacey Grace being a junior, Rusty Arnett knows that he has to cherish all of those moments while they last. 

“Me and my wife kind of rotate,” Rusty Arnett said. “School meets, I go to. It’s been nice, knowing especially that she’s a junior. I’ve got one more year, and she’s gone. It’s been really cool to have that one-on-one time with her. I enjoy that, I’m going to miss that.” 

Lacey Grace has also been helped by Rusty’s involvement in the process. Lacey Grace has been helped by her father’s workout program. As a swimmer, Lacey Grace does a lot of the basic workouts that the other athletes do. Lacey Grace also adds specific workouts, like overhead presses and shoulder shrugs, to help her become a stronger swimmer. 

Outside of the weight room, Rusty Arnett also acts as Lacey Grace’s motivator. 

“He’s helped me out a lot with my goals,” Lacey said. “He pushes me and helps me get out the door sometimes when it’s one of those days that I don’t want to wake up at 7 A.M. on the weekend to practice or 5 A.M. before school.”

As a father, Rusty Arnett has seen Lacey Grace through every high and low of her swim career and has seen her grow throughout the process. 

“She started when she was eight and actually didn’t make the team when she was seven,” Arnett said. 

“It’s been really cool watching her grow mentally. It’s that fighting through pain and working hard because swim is hard. Swim is every day, year-round. The work ethic that she’s had with it, the determination and the willingness to keep grinding, it’s pretty special.” 

Swimming has been a major part of Lacey Grace’s everyday life. Arnett practices five to six days a week, and she swims for more than one team. 

Arnett’s other swim team, Opelika Swim Team, has helped her to make drastic improvements on the way. Tyler McGill coaches Arnett at Opelika. McGill won a gold medal alongside Michael Phelps in the 2012 Olympics in London. 

McGill has acted as another point of motivation for Arnett alongside friends she’s made throughout her swimming career. 

“My coach has been a good inspiration,” Arnett said. “I have a few friends that have pushed me to work harder. Working out in the weight room, that’s helped me to grow a lot too as a swimmer.” 

Arnett has accomplished so much early on in her swimming career, but she is not done setting new goals. Arnett still hopes to continue improving her times this season and eventually swim at the collegiate level. 

“Hopefully this year by Southeasterns, I hope to get my 100 breaststrokes down in the 1.07 range, Arnett said. “I hope to swim in college. Don’t really know what that looks like yet, it’s a work in progress.”

Rusty Arnett has seen a different work ethic in Lacey Grace than what most high school students possess, and he believes that she has what it takes to succeed at the next level. 

“Not many people have that,” Arnett said. “Just that drive to keep going, even through Christmas break when it’s cold. Last year, she swam on Christmas Eve. If you want to go to the next level, you’ve got to outwork everybody else. She wants to swim in college, and it’s going to happen.” 

Through swimming, Arnett has grown up as a person, gained friendships and gained opportunities in ministry. 

Swimming has taught Lacey Grace so much over the years, and she hopes that others can see her experience and the sport will grow in the area. 

“I hope that me swimming and going to state can be an inspiration for kids at the elementary school,” Lacey said. “Kind of the way I discovered it was that I wanted to play a sport, wasn’t really good at any ball sports. I was like, I like the water, maybe I’ll try swimming. It’s a great sport, and it teaches you a lot of life lessons.”