Last updated 12:00, June 2 2015
Sport is not always glamorous but 13-year-old Holly Marshall has become immune to the shrivelled fingers and funny smells that go hand in hand with competitive swimming.
Holly has been competing at a national level since she was just nine years old and currently spends more than 10 hours a week in a Palmerston North pool.
“Everyone says I smell like chlorine but I can’t smell it anymore.”
The Year 8 Huntley School student was a part of the first in-take of girls to the previously all-boys school. But that didn’t scare Holly as she went on to break all the school swimming records this year.
“It’s good because they have been there for ages.”
Holly has held a Manawatu swimming age group title since 2012 and although she is proud of her 100-plus medals, she said she prefers the lifelong friendships she has made along the way.
“It’s [swimming] really, really fun and you meet lots of new people. You get to make new friends not just from your region but around the place. I have friends in Hamilton and Wellington.”
Like a lot of successful athletes, Holly has a set routine which she said she has to stick to before each race.
“Ten minutes before the race is about to even start, I get my goggles on all right and fix them all up and a few minutes later I do it again. I do it continuously right up until the race. But I have to keep them on when there is about 50 metres to go when I’m walking in.”
Holly said she hasn’t found any major challenges with her busy schedule so far but she often dreads having more time off school.
“I don’t like having time off school and having to leave early or like for nationals having a week off. I have so much work to do in class but I’m slowly getting there.”
Even with her time off school, Holly has managed to keep up to date with her studies. She was the first girl to receive her Headmasters Colours which, as Principal Sam Edwards explained, is for general academic excellence.
Sam said Holly is a conscientious student who represents the school well.
“You kind of don’t know how well she’s doing because she never brags about it, she just gets on with it. She’s just such a hard worker and I think that’s going to take her really far in life.”
How far? Holly hopes all the way to the 2024 Olympics.
“I hope I am still swimming I haven’t really thought about anything else I would do. But I do really like cooking and baking.”