Early in the summer, Rayelle Brewer didn’t have the opportunity to get in the pool and work on her swimming technique because of COVID-19 and pool closures.
Instead, her family decided to come up with a new idea for practice.
Brewer and her family set up a swimming pool in their backyard so she and her brother could practice when there seemed to be no other option. The two of them tied a resistance band to their swing set while attaching the other end to a belt and strapping it to their waists.
“It was kind of chaotic,” Brewer said with a laugh. “And obviously we couldn’t work on our distance, so we would really work on maintaining speed. I also focused on a lot of technique work, rather than turns and some other things I would typically work on.”
Brewer is one of the top swimmers for Cheyenne South. The junior placed sixth in the 500-yard freestyle and eighth in the 200-yard freestyle in last year’s Class 4A state meet.
It wasn’t until midway through last season at a meet in Newcastle that it was realized Brewer excels in distance races.
She competed in the individual medley and 500-yard freestyle events at that meet, and wanted to swim well in front of her family, who lives near Newcastle and attended to show support. She proved to herself and her coaches that distance is her strong suit.
“I would work on distance and the mile during my own time,” said Brewer, who was mainly focused on her sprints and her butterfly during her freshman campaign.
“My coaches started working with me more on my turns and my breathing, and then they decided that distance races are where I would fit best during the state meet last year.
“I did well, and there’s a good chance that’s where I’m going to stay.”
The realization that Brewer has found her strength in the pool may have brought on a new confidence for her. South coach Jason Garman has noticed Brewer has become more confident and comfortable in the water since last season.
“Last year, (Brewer) put a lot of pressure on herself, and I think that might have held her back in some ways,” Garman said. “But just watching her this year, I can see more maturity. … She looks way stronger and a lot more confident in the pool, and she’s pushing herself in a different way that she couldn’t last year, so, I really think this year will be a nice improvement for her.”
Brewer agrees with her coach, and believes she is more confident in her ability to compete at a higher level this season. She’s much more confident in her physicality, as well.
Toward the end of her freshman season, Brewer injured her left shoulder because of what she says was a weird stroke, causing her to miss some time. Now, she feels more comfortable she can push herself without re-injuring it after working on her stroke a lot – especially over the summer.
Her added confidence and her new stroke should be a successful combination for Brewer. As one of the three Lady Bison swimmers who qualified for state last season, she’s anxious to take on the leadership role she has fallen into.
She said she’s ready to evolve over the season and position herself to become one of the top swimmers in the state.
“I can see myself placing a lot better at conference, and my goal at state is to actually get on the podium instead of just standing next to it like I had to last season,” she said. “I’m excited to show what I can do.”