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Comeback kid

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Shelbyville's Ellie Hamilton has been named The Shelbyville News Girls Swimmer of the Year.
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Shelbyville's Ellie Hamilton competes in a race this season. Hamilton has been named The Shelbyville News Girls Swimmer of the Year.

By KATRINA BRANSON - kbranson@shelbynews.com

Ellie Hamilton is no newcomer to swimming. However, this year was deemed her comeback season. The junior underwent back surgery and made a comeback for the record books.

“It was definitely Ellie's comeback year,” said Shelbyville head coach Coen Weiler. “She had back surgery last year, and the day she got cleared was basically when our season began this year. She came back strong.”

At the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet Hamilton finished seventh in the 100-yard freestyle and sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke. The junior continuously progressed this year.

Even more impressive, Hamilton also had two top-eight performances at the sectional hosted by Lawrence North, finishing eighth in the 50-yard freestyle (26.58) and seventh in the 100 free (58.66).

Hamilton is the first Golden Bear swimmer to have two top-eight performances in sectional action since 2012 when Sarah Fleming did so.

“Ellie's work ethic and leadership skills are just solid,” Weiler said. “She volunteers with younger swimmers. She really cares about the sport and you can see that.”

For her commitment and dedication to the sport, Hamilton has been named The Shelbyville News Girls Swimmer of the Year.

As glad as she is to be back to swimming, she admits to getting nervous in the pool.

“I do still get nervous at meets,” Hamilton said. “I try not to look at the other girls times. I just try and focus on myself and do the best I can.”

In sixth and seventh grade Hamilton wore a back brace to help with her scoliosis, but it continued to curve. The decision was then made to have surgery to correct it.

“I had a spinal fusion in between my freshman and sophomore year, so my sophomore year was kind of like a recovery year,” explained Hamilton. “I was focused on getting back down to where I was as a freshman. Physical therapy wise, swimming is the best thing to do for me honestly.”

The junior improved this year drastically in her 100 free.

“I finished last year with a 1:02, and I dropped it drastically this year by four seconds,” Hamilton said.

Weiler knew what a huge accomplishment it was for the junior.

“First time she broke a minute on her 100 free was huge for her,” he said. “For us as a program it was a huge deal. Overall, her confidence grew tremendously this year -- as well as her intensity level. Every meet she came in and was ready to swim and do the best she could.”

Next year, Hamilton will be welcoming her younger sister to the program. Karissa will be a freshman.

“It'll be fun swimming with my sister,” Hamilton said. “She'll be a fast addition for us. We'll be in good shape.”

Weiler is also excited to be adding Hamilton's younger sister to the program next year.

“I'm looking forward to next year,” he said. “(Karissa) just broke the 50 free record at the middle school, and she'll be a great addition to the team.”

Hamilton took the time to thank everyone who has helped her the last few years.

“My parents helped me so much,” she said. “Also Coach (Weiler) was awesome, he helped build up my confidence. He was my No. 1 supporter, he basically had to reteach me to swim. The team helped me a lot, too, I am so thankful for all of the support.”

Katrina Branson is a Sports writer for The Shelbyville News. Follow Katrina on Twitter @k_b527.