Millennium High School swimmer Kennedy Noble has an angel on her side. Ryan Kent, her YMCA West Side Silver Fins swim coach who recently passed away, inspired her to be her best.
For that, she may be on track to swim in the Olympics. On top of it, Noble, 14, will swim in the junior nationals in Austin, Texas, on December 5.
“I don’t have any expectations because it’s my first time going to such a big meet,” she said. “I’m going to see what I can do.”
In the summer of 2020, at age 16, she’s planning to swim in the Olympic trials. She needs to finish first or second to make the team. She sees 2024 as a more realistic goal. She is swimming 10 seconds under the qualifying time for the 2020 Olympic trials.
“I’m such a perfectionist,” the Litchfield Park teen said. “When I win anything I always think, ‘What’s the next thing? I have to do something better than this.
“My goal is to slow down, admire what I’ve done and be proud of myself. I can easily stay motivated. I love to work hard, and hurt and be uncomfortable in practice and seeing the outcome.”
The outcome has been remarkable. Noble won a state championship in the 100-meter backstroke and set a state record in the process.
“I was a little nervous coming into it,” she said. “It’s very competitive. It’s full of club swimmers. Even though I’m a freshman, I wanted to come in and do whatever I could to get as high as I could.
“I was the youngest person in my heat. I swam for my coach that weekend. I had a lot of motivation.”
Noble is the daughter of Brett Noble and Tara Hankins, and Jocelyn and Jana Jones-Lybarger. She calls her mom, Jana, an inspiration.
“My mom (Jana) did triathlons when I was younger and she swam every day,” said Noble, who still swims for the Silver Fins when she’s not with Millennium’s team. “I would sit there and watch her for two hours and do nothing else. I started swimming rec at 9. I was pretty good at it. I needed a challenge, so I joined club swimming at 11 and loved it ever since.
“I was successful. My coach, Ryan Kent, passed away and he did a lot for me. He got me where I am today and he taught me to love swimming.
“He was a life mentor,” she said. “He taught me how to bring life lessons to the pool, how to push myself and get through things in my everyday life. I grew as a person. I transferred everything to the pool. I vent in the pool. If I had a bad day, I had a really good practice. I let out everything I feel in the pool.”