On the first weekend of November, Nature Coast Tech Freshman Ellagrace Galioto competed in the FHSAA 2A Regionals for swimming in Pensacola, Florida. The results spoke for themselves as the talented freshman finished 3rd and 5th place in the individual events for women’s 200 and 500-yard freestyle. Galioto clocked in at 2:04.23 in the 200 free and at 5:31.44 in the 500 free. While she has produced quicker times in the 200 free – her best time being 2:02.42 – Galioto’s times were still fast enough to qualify for states. That is not all, though, as the first-year swimmer for the Sharks has set 8 new school records out of 11 events at Nature Coast. Five of these records came in individual events while three more came as part of a relay.
Moreover, Galioto has accomplished these feats as a 13-year-old due to her starting high school a year early. Being homeschooled all her life, Ellagrace wanted to experience what high school would be like. The neophyte high schooler has taken to public school life well, as her GPA rests above a 4.0 while taking honors courses with a specialization in criminal justice. While being in a new school and swimming against girls four or five years older may be difficult, Galioto enjoys the support and friendship that being a part of a team provides.
“I have gained amazing friendships all because of swimming,” Galioto said. “I really like the comradery of the high school swim team at Nature Coast Technical High School. Swimming is an individual sport, but there it really feels like a team and that makes it so much more fun.”
What has allowed the young swimmer to compete against the other girls is her work ethic. She practices for over two hours a day, between five and seven days a week depending on swim meet schedule. She has worked with club coach Jeremy Marzicola for over eight years and recently began working with another club coach Dave Ambrose as well as her high school coach Aaron Ciccarello to continue her growth. Ellagrace’s mother, Traci Galioto, sees all of the hard work her daughter has been putting in and cannot help but brag about Ellagrace.
“Ellagrace’s dad and I are immensely proud of her and all her accomplishments academically and athletically,” Traci said. “We want to brag and tell everyone that will listen about how proud we are of her and all her accomplishments, but Ella is always shushing us. She tells us, ‘I don’t want to be like that.’ We tell her we’re just proud of her and it’s called being a proud parent and one day she will understand. As parents, happiness comes when you realize your children have turned out to be good people.”
The humble, hardworking freshman believes setting goals is important and she has set a goal that she will continue to swim for whichever college she competes for. The next objective on the path to achieving her goals: a time qualifying meet in Ocala, Florida from December 2nd through December 4th. Dubbed the Gator Holiday Classic, the event normally takes place at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, but the location was changed this year to a newly built venue in Ocala.
“I am constantly setting new goals,” the younger Galioto said. “Re-evaluating those goals and hopefully, achieving those goals. For me, it’s important I set reasonable, achievable goals. Achieving a goal makes me feel good. It puts me in a good head space. A positive mindset produces positive results.”