Edwardsville honors school star who made a splash
Edwardsville recently waved goodbye to a hometown student-athlete who made waves herself.
The city named Feb. 7 "Bailey Grinter Day" in her honor.
The senior classroom and swimming pool star is moving on to the University of Tennessee, where she will continue her swimming career after winning the Illinois High School Association state championship in the backstroke last season, as well as seven other titles. That athletic performance combined with her academic success took her to a Division I university.
"It was between the University of Florida and the University of Tennessee,” Grinter told the Metro East Sun. “When it came down to it, I felt more at home at Tennessee, so that's why I chose them."
Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton wanted to honor Grinter, who has already competed in the Olympic trials and aspires to make the Games one day.
"It was a very cool and a great honor to get my own day,” Grinter said.
Grinter’s designated day was one in a long list of honors she’s accumulated in her short career. She was even named one of the "Faces in the Crowd" by Sports Illustrated last year. The long-running feature singles out a handful of young athletes doing exceptional things in their sport, but the magazine rarely picks swimmers over football, basketball or baseball players, so you know Grinter was doing something special.
But despite her success, Grinter stays grounded and credits her coaches, Bob Rhettle and Christian Rhoten, for her accomplishments, saying they helped her not only in her athletic career but in all aspects of her life, as well. The focus and motivation she's developed while swimming are skills she plans to carry with her to college and, hopefully, to the Olympics and the rest of her career.
At Tennessee, she'll be coached by Matt Kredich, who has an extensive list of accolades himself, including coaching four Olympians. He's also had five NCAA champions, 15 top-15 finishers and 57 All-Americans.
Grinter, who plans to compete in both the 100-meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle, said the chance to be a part of that type of coaching environment along with the school’s impressive facilities were just a few reasons for choosing Tennessee. She was courted by many schools, including the University of Florida and Harvard.
"I hope to develop more skills that will aid me in becoming a better swimmer," Grinter said. "Tennessee has a great coaching staff that I'm excited to work with."