Alayna Gray of Fonda-johnstown is Times Union’s Athlete of Year in girls’ swimming.
Alayna Gray, the Times Union Athlete of the Year for girls’ swimming and diving, doesn’t just like aquatic sports, she also skis, runs cross country and track and is a pole vaulter.
The Johnstown junior grew up skiing downhill at nearby Royal Mountain, but picked up classic Nordic skiing two years ago and promptly became an alternate for the high school state championships. Gray was on Johnstown’s section-winning 3,200 relay as a freshman and also competed in pole vault, but her favorite sport is swimming. You can find Gray in a pool or on the way to one pretty much year-round. She’s a grinder.
“I love the feeling of success after a hard workout,” Gray said.
In the summer, she swims two to three hours in the morning and another couple of hours in the afternoon, traveling an hour from her home in Johnstown to practice at Skidmore and Union colleges.
The hard work has paid off. Gray went undefeated in Section II dual meets and capped her season by winning two sectional titles (50 and 100 freestyle) and finishing second in the public school division in both events at the state meet. Her time in the 50 free was 23.58 seconds and 51.48 in the 100 free, both personal bests and good enough for All-america consideration. No Fonda-johnstown swimmer had ever finished top three in two events at the state meet.
“Everyone in both school districts and both communities are so proud of her,” said coach Ken Hoefs.
In addition to her success at the state championships, Gray counts a team win over Schenectady among the highlights of her season. Fonda-johnstown rallied to beat the Division I Patriots in late September. Gray swam the final leg on the winning 400-yard freestyle relay that clinched the win, coming from 25 yards behind to get the win.
Gray has been in the swim program for three years, but took last year off from varsity competition to focus on club swimming. She came back because she missed being on the team.
Including her two sectional titles, Gray has been part of a lot of victories recently for Fonda-johnstown. In just two varsity seasons, she has set school records in the 50, 100 and 500 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.
She looks forward to taking her game to the next level in 2019.
Her mindset, as it is every year: “It’s always about improving your times,” she said.
Girls’ swimming Times Union Athlete of the Year Alayna Gray of Fonda-johnstown.