The best gift that Bayley Frierson gets over the holiday break is time. Her life revolves around it, whether it means shaving seconds off in the pool or crunching in those extra few minutes of sleep.
For a high school kid tempted by the distractions and indulgences of the regular teenage social experience, her greatest accomplishment so far in her life has been consistency. You can see it in her eyes when she speaks about where her commitment to the pool will take her next—it’s starting to get really exciting. It’s starting to all pay off.
When Frierson does get her shut-eye, which she says ranges between four and four and a half hours during the school year, she can dream about her approaching freshman year of college, nestled in an oasis in the Bronx. The unknown—new friends, new coaches, new experiences—excites her.
“This is the best time in my life to go on an adventure,” Frierson said. “Four years to live somewhere else for free? I’ve got to take advantage of that.”
Frierson was planning to use her swimming talents—namely, what she does in endurance races like the 200 and 500 freestyle—to nail down a scholarship at Georgia Tech, where she has swam before in the GHSA state finals—most recently last season. Then Fordham University contacted her in early September. She visited two weeks later and committed in October, just in time to sign her letter of intent in November.
“The campus is beautiful, the team was just so fun. It clicked so well. I can’t wait to go,” Frierson said.
Of course, “can’t wait” is an expression. The truth is, Frierson is hanging on to the final few swims she’ll have with her team at South Forsyth this season. County will meet at the Cumming Aquatic Center at the end of the month, then the state meet will follow in early February.
Frierson plans on besting her standout performances from last season. She finished seventh in the 200 free with a time of 1:53.60, then upped that with a podium finish in the 500 with a time of 4:54.75. She was three seconds off Chattahoochee’s Emma Layton for the state title. She’ll try to chase that title in her final varsity race if all goes according to plan. Still, she humbly elects to speak about her experiences more than her measurables.
“I just want to go out and feel like this finish ties everything else together,” Frierson said. “Just making it to the state finals is an accomplishment in itself. It’s just a lot of fun to swim at. I want to have fun. The club meets I compete in are so serious, but at state there’s just so much energy, everyone is cheering for one another. It’s my favorite meet.”
Frierson gets to exhale at that meet. Combined with her club commitment with Chattahoochee Gold, which conveniently swims out of the aquatic center, she only gets spring break and a three week stretch at the end of the club season to catch her breath. Even during those stretches of relaxation she feels called to the pool.
“We actually did have a break where my friend and I just had to get over there and get some workouts in,” Frierson said. “You just have to get the training in. The farther you want to go, the more you have to push yourself.”
During the school year she wakes up at 4:50 a.m. with her mother—also a swimmer—and heads for the first practice of the day. After school, she practices again, then heads home for dinner and homework. By the time the books are open, which include Advanced Placement-level courses, she’s in a race to make bed by midnight.
Why does she do it?
“I’ve just always loved swimming,” Frierson said. “I tried just about every other sport as a kid, but the ones requiring land coordination got to me. I started swimming in the second grade and just never wanted to stop.”