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Athlete Worth Watching: Annie Hayburn of St. Mary’s High School/Loyola University Swimming

Oct 31, 2016 02:07PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Tom Worgo

Loyola University of Maryland’s swimming coach Brian Loeffler can’t wait for freshman Annie Hayburn to start her college career. Hayburn, a 2016 St. Mary’s High School graduate, never lost a conference race in her four years as a varsity swimmer. She should also be just as tough to beat at Loyola. Her elite skills will be on display for the Greyhounds starting this November.

“She should challenge some of our school records,” Loeffler says. “We have a really talented freshman class and she is the top swimmer in the class. She is very versatile and is not just good in one or two events. She is strong in several. She can swim against the other teams’ top swimmer because she is so versatile.”

Hayburn also has impressed Loeffler with her academic accomplishments. She carried a weighted 4.4 grade point average in high school. Hayburn is the first valedictorian he’s coached in 25 years on at the job at Loyola, and she’ll attend the school on an academic and athletic scholarship.

Indeed, it’s not hard to be dazzled by her. Out of the pool, the 18-year-old Hayburn is eager to help people and leads a group that makes rosaries for Catholic soldiers. She also has tutored elementary school students and has been active with a youth group at Sacred Heart Church in Bowie. Hayburn makes it clear that her faith is important to her.

“She will be a great addition to our community,” Loeffler says. “She is an amazing student and amazing person. She hits all the marks and is the total package.”

Hayburn plans to major in accounting. “I have always had an interest in math and numbers,” Hayburn says. “My grandfather (George Mesfenger) was an auditor, so I grew up learning about it. And I have family friends who are accountants. They have a lot of good things to say about doing it for a career.”

Hayburn, however, will continue to attract more attention for her swimming ability. She went a perfect 32-0 in races in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference.

“I didn’t know that until the end of my senior year that I had never lost an individual race in conference,” she says. “That’s how it ended up. I just went week-to-week and race-to-race. For me, the accomplishment was really amazing. It made me feel really humbled.”   

So did all the championships she won. The 5-foot-7 Hayburn finished her St. Mary’s career with eight individual titles, including the 50-meter freestyle, 100 back stroke, 100 butterfly, and 200 individual medley.

Hayburn also competed year-round for the Annapolis Swim Club and participated in national-level events the past two summers.

“Her core strength is remarkable,” St. Mary’s swimming coach Allyson Reiter says. “When you see her, she doesn’t appear muscular or anything. She is like slight and light. She goes up against girls that are broad shouldered and muscular.”   

Reiter says Hayburn was the hardest working swimmer she’s coached in nine years. 

“The way she has worked on her technique, conditioning, and her core strength is what sets her apart,” Reiter says. “She is always giving an all-out effort.”

Reiter called Hayburn, who served as co-captain as a senior co-captain as a senior, the perfect role model for St. Mary’s younger swimmers. Hayburn says she just loves working with underclassmen.

“She worked really hard to help them with their strategy,” Reiter says. “She instilled confidence in them. If a girl was just not confident, she would be like, ‘You can do it. I believe in you. You have worked hard. I have seen it. Just go do it.’”

St. Mary’s athletic director Allison Fondale says Hayburn is a rare student-athlete.

“She is special and unique,” Fondale says. “She is very humble, team-oriented, and very modest. She is fantastic in all those areas. Her character is what separates her. I feel blessed to have gotten to have known her.”