During her sophomore year, Kaylyn Matis arrived at the pool one practice and strapped on her goggles, as always. But this day was different. Kaylyn, now a rising senior at Western Branch High in Chesapeake, had suffered from severe migraines for years. However, this headache was more intense, pounding in her skull and down her neck. It had been going on for days. Still, Kaylyn was determined to become a better swimmer for her high school team. She kept a bucket by her swimming lane in case she needed to vomit. Even her coach was surprised and asked:
“What are you doing here?”
Kaylyn doesn’t like to lose and means it when she says, “You have to put in the work.”
The headache and concussion she got later during practice would have been enough to sideline some, but Kaylyn refused to stop when the state competition was in sight.
“Well, she’s determined. Very determined,” said friend Abbie Hartsell, 17. “She doesn’t take no for an answer.”
Kaylyn didn’t qualify for the state competition at that time but she continues to swim for Western Branch and competitive USA Swimming teams. Her best race is the 100-meter butterfly, and she typically places during meets.
Abbie says of Kaylyn that she’s a diligent swimmer and an equally diligent friend. “She’s very loyal…She helps everybody. She’s always there for you.”