The Rocket Flame

The Setbacks Make for a Better Comeback


Kylee Long puts on her swim cap before her first race.

It was around a year ago student Kylee Long’s life was forever changed. What was thought to be just another hunting trip turned out to be so much more. Long suffered an accidental gunshot to her right leg that resulted in a month spent in the UPMC Altoona hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“They had to amputate above the knee because they didn’t have enough to keep my knee joint,” said Long.

She was released from the hospital on December 20, 2018, and, ever since that, has adjusted to her new way of life. Long had hoped to return to the soccer field this season, but ended up finding a new interest in the pool.

“I was looking for something to keep me in shape,” Long said. “I was talking to a swimmer who recommended coming to pre-season and trying it out.”

After attending the first pre-season training, Long had an interest in swimming and decided to join the team.

“I’ve really gotten the hang of each individual stroke,” said Long. “My favorite stroke is for sure [the] freestyle.”

Long has really enjoyed learning all the new strokes and getting to know her new teammates. She was even chosen to be a captain of the team.

“Kylee works so hard and is always cheering her teammates on,” said Coach Heckman. “She really deserved the position, she is a great role model.”

Long’s goal  is to improve all of her times by the end of the season. She always speaks about how thankful she is for all the support she gets from family and friends. After only a year, Long hopes to keep pushing her limits with her new way of life.

“It’s been a wild ride,” said Long. “I can’t believe it’s been a year since my accident, but the love and support has been endless through my good and bad times.”

Just Keep Swimming


When it comes to a successful sports season, there is a lot of practice that needs to be done and goals to be set. Last season the Rockets achieved bringing five swimmers to states. These qualifiers included Nicholas Garbinski (12), Annalise Hissong (11), Rachel Kimmel (12), Sarah Kimmel (10), and Annabelle McCullough (12). This year the team hopes to do bigger and better things.


“The team goal for the season is to win 50% of dual meets.” MCcullough said. “Also to fill every event with swimmers.”


Last season the team had a total of 22 swimmers. This year, however, there have been more swimmers already attending pre-season workouts than the total combined swimmers that ended the season last year.


“This is my first year on the swim team” said Alyssa Young (9). “My goal for this year is to improve on my strokes.


During practice, the swimmers work on skills and technique to perfect their strokes. This include starts, flip turns, and streamlines. At the beginning of each race, the swimmer has to dive off the blocks. This is known as a start. The point of practicing these are to get off the starting blocks as fast as possible. Flip turns are when the swimmer reverses the direction in they are swimming. Streamlines, when the swimmer positions their body into a straight line, this is practiced to make the swimmer be more efficient in their stroke.


The team is led by a great group of seniors and captains. Voted on last Friday, Samantha Mills (12), Annabelle McCullough (12) were named the captains.  Other seniors on the team include Nick Garbinski (12), Rachel Kimmel (12), Austin Sheppard (12), and William Sims (12).


“I see lots of potential this year.” Kimmel (12)  said. “We practice for two hours everyday making sure everything is perfected.”


Kimmel this year attained a big dream of her own. Kimmel accepted a full scholarship to swim for a Division 1 college at St. Bonaventure University. She signed the National Letter of Intent (NLI) on Nov. 9 agreeing to swim with St. Bonaventure.


With the swim team working on skills and techniques, they are getting ready to accomplish bigger and better things.

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