Ryan sophomore making strides in the pool

Allison Henry was a double winner at the Catholic League championships. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Sometimes you can catch a lucky break.

Allison Henry can attest to that.

Henry, a sophomore at Archbishop Ryan High School, was a soccer player when she was younger. And she enjoyed the sport. But then one day she realized she couldn’t play the game she loves anymore.

Henry was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a rare condition where the thigh bone loses its blood supply, which then damages the bone. The condition kept her off the pitch for good.

It kept her from playing soccer, but it allowed her to participate in the sport she truly loves.

“I wasn’t able to play soccer anymore because of it, but I could swim,” said Henry, who has been one of the top swimmers in the Catholic League this year. “I’m so glad I found swimming and I’m glad swimming found me.”

Swimming may have caught up with Henry, but not many swimmers have been able to keep pace with her.

This year, the only thing more impressive than Henry’s times has been her versatility. She’s been a high scorer for the Raiders in the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard butterfly, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 500-yard freestyle.

Her best day was arguably in the Catholic League championship meet, where she picked up wins in both the individual medley and the 500 freestyle, in helping the Ragdolls take second place, finishing just behind champion Archbishop Wood.

Other locals to excel during the meet were St. Hubert’s senior Kaelyn Dougherty, who won the 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, and Colin Reilly, a Father Judge senior who won the 100 fly and the 100 free.

Henry shined in the Catholic League championships, but she’s also been solid throughout the year. She says, this year, she has broken four school records at Ryan, and also established two Catholic League records in the process.

If you think setting records and winning big races is something that gets old, you don’t know Henry.

“When I won, I was really excited,” Henry said. “The first thing I did was get out and smile, then I pointed up at my time on the board and gave a big thumbs up. And then I celebrated with my coaches. I was really happy.”

Winning always feels good, but it feels even better when you put in a lot of work to get the positive result.

And nobody works harder than Henry. She practices 10 times a week with the Langhorne-based NRG swim club, which includes two-a-days a few times a week.

There, she spends a lot of time in the water, but she also works on getting stronger outside of the pool.

“I’ll do strength, conditioning and on Sundays I work out with heavy weight, low repetitions,” the Normandy resident said. “I practice really hard. I love doing it. I like doing it because it makes me swim faster.”

Henry will continue working hard this week, but she’ll have to dial it back a little to prepare for next week’s state swim meet. While she’ll continue to maintain, the goal is to be tapered and ready to post fast times in the final high school meet of the year.

“I really don’t like not practicing hard because I love it so much,” Henry said. “But to get my times down, I have to do it. I love practicing, it’s something I have fun doing, but I want to have a great time at states.”

She also has fun helping others have fun.

Henry, who is an honor student, is a member of the school’s Athletes Helping Athletes program, where athletes from the school are partnered with a special-needs athlete.

“We do different fundraisers and things to have fun,” Henry said. “They haven’t come to any (swim meets) this year, but we have been to basketball games and we did a fundraiser with Santa over Christmas. It’s fun to see them have fun.”

Almost as much fun as it is to break school records.

“I love doing that,” Henry said. “I’ve been swimming since I was in kindergarten but I quit and then came back when I was in second grade. My first record was in the 100 IM when I was swimming 10-and-under. I broke more when I was 12 or 13. Now I’m 16 and this year it was great to break Ryan records, and the PCL records. It was fun.”