Lizzie Ehmann wanted to be just like her big sister.
In fact, she wanted to be a little bit better.
Ehmann is a junior at Little Flower High School, and when she arrived in high school, she was focused on dance, which she’s been doing since she was in third grade.
But Ehmann comes from a swimming family.
Her father was a longtime swimming coach and her older sister Emily was a swimmer at Archbishop Ryan when she started school at Little Flower.
She loves her sister, but as a competitor, she wanted to win that battle more than anything. Unfortunately, or fortunately for their parents, a head-to-head battle never materialized, so instead, they just pushed each other.
“All through elementary school, my sisters swam and I never did, and my dad was a coach,” said Ehmann, who lives in Holmesburg. “I was so focused on dance, so I didn’t swim, but freshman year, my sister was a senior at Ryan and I wanted to compete against her. We ended up not swimming the same race.
“I’m lucky, I get a lot of support from my family. Everyone was supportive that I was taking up another activity, and they always wanted the best for me. But I’m glad I started swimming, I really like it. And I’m glad I’m swimming. It’s fun, but it’s also nice to be around my family. Swimming is important to us.”
Ehmann has become a huge part of the Sentinels swimming team. She competes in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, as well as contributing to the team’s freestyle and medley relay teams.
And just like she did when she first started swimming, she has a sister connection, but this time, they’re not competing.
Instead, they are pushing each other at practice.
“My younger sister is on the team, so it’s great having her on there,” Ehmann said of her sister, Jolene, a freshman at Little Flower. “We love being a part of this team. We have a lot of fun, it’s like a family, honesty. Coach Sean (Clothier) is one of the best coaches I’ve ever met, he’s the sweetest guy and he really cares for us and wants us to put our best foot forward. But he also pushes us and wants us to do well.”
When Ehmann is in the pool, she gives swimming and her teammates everything she has. And while she loves it, her true passion is dance, which she has been competing in for as long as she can remember.
She’s studied many different types of dance, and enjoys just about all of them.
“I pretty much do all styles of dance, I do a bunch,” Ehmann said. “I’ve done ballet, hip hop, contemporary, jazz and probably a lot more that I can’t even think of. I would say they all take different types of skill level and body muscles and movements. I think it helps make me a well-rounded dancer. Hopefully it will help me in getting jobs (in dance) in the future.”
Taking part in dance, especially the high-level competition, gives Ehmann a competitive edge when she’s swimming.
The dance game can be pretty competitive, so when Ehmann is in the pool, she uses that experience to help her drop times.
In fact, the sports don’t have that many similarities, but Ehmann says both activities help each other.
“It is hard at some points but I know I love doing both and I wouldn’t want to give up one or the other because I love them both,” Ehmann said. “I keep pushing through and remind myself why I am doing it.
“I mostly because I love staying active and love being a part of the team with dance and also swimming at Little Flower. I wouldn’t want to let them down, I like putting in the effort.
“I would say both help in certain ways. Obviously staying fit and working my muscles and building strength helps a lot. And stamina for sure, swimming helps. Without dance I wouldn’t have the same stamina. It helps keep me in shape. It has helped, I feel like swimming has made me stronger. It focuses more on muscle and strength. It helped a lot.”
While Ehmann is busy all year long, the winters are her busiest season with swimming and dance. Now, her attention is mostly on dance, where she practices about three times a week. But she’s also busy keeping up with her studies.
“I’m a pretty good student, I have been on honor roll all year, maybe missed one quarter. I’m proud of my grades, keeping up with the schoolwork with the amount of things I do (in sports) is one of the biggest accomplishments and I can persevere though. I’m going to deal with harder things, and that will help me.”
When she’s not studying, swimming or dancing, she enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, and enjoys spending time in Wildwood, where she works at Mariner’s Arcade.
She’s happy she has one more year left swimming with the Sentinels. But she is starting to think about the future, which will definitely include dance.
“I definitely want to dance in college, I’m not sure about swimming other than to just stay fit,” she said. “I wouldn’t major in dance, I’m thinking more about physical therapy. And minor in dance or dance for a club. I like physical therapy, I had my share of injuries and had to see physical therapists, and I fell in love with the idea of helping people do what they love again.”
She also wants to make her final year swimming a memorable one
“I hope to make states in relay, we were very close this year,” she said. “We lost one senior, who was great, but we have great girls on the team that can step in.
“We have a great team. We’re a family and we have a lot of fun. It’s the same with dance. I’m lucky with both of them.”