CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Most people think of swimming as a summer recreational activity, but it is also a popular year-round sport. When the weather gets cold, competitive swimmers head inside to continue their sport throughout the winter.
Haley Hemsworth, a sophomore at George Washington High School, has been swimming for 11 years. She started when she was 5.
"My mom got me started in swimming," the 16-year-old said. "My little brother and sister swim, too."
Both of Hemsworth's parents, Josh and Cindy, were competitive swimmers. Her mother is also a swim coach.
Swimming is a major part of Hemsworth's life. She swims for three different teams, including the South Hills Swim Club in the summer.
"I practice two days a week from November to February for George Washington's swim team," she said. "I also do HYCAT swimming. I practice four to five days a week for that."
HYCAT is a year-round swimming program designed for youth. Its goal is to help kids advance in competitive swimming while teaching sportsmanship and other life skills. There are two HYCAT programs in West Virginia, one in Charleston and one in Huntington.
"My favorite event is probably the 100- or 200-meter breaststroke," Hemsworth said.
There are four main strokes in the competitive swimming program: freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke. Swimmers compete in both short and long distance races. There are also team relays for boys and girls.