Saint swimmer selects Virginia Tech

Published 10:16 pm Friday, November 4, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk senior Gabrielle Bishop is the Virginia Independent School record holder in the 200 freestyle (1:49.75), the 100 free (51.06) and the 100 backstroke (57.13). Bishop’s won six state championships, two each season since her freshman year. She’s signing her commitment to swim at Virginia Tech on Wednesday at NSA.

Gabrielle Bishop’s swimming prowess already extends well beyond the scholastic level and what she’s achieved on Nansemond-Suffolk’s swim team.

Bishop has won six state championships, holds 11 Lady Saint program records and three state private school individual records.

Outside of being a Saint swimmer, Bishop has won state championships, set state records, been among the best youth swimmers in the nation and has her sights set on trimming a few tenths of a second off her times and making the U.S. Olympic Trials in time for the 2012 London Olympics.

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College swimming programs from far and wide wanted Bishop for the next four years.

Bishop will officially sign her commitment to attend and swim for Virginia Tech on Wednesday at NSA.

“I’m definitely glad it’s over. It was hectic, but it was fun to go through. There was a lot of stress and it’s a huge decision, but I’m glad I went through it,” Bishop said.

Bishop said her choice came down to the Hokies and Penn State. Schools from the ACC, SEC, Big 12 along with Navy were in on the recruiting as well.

“It’s a combination of swimming and everything other than swimming,” Bishop said about Virginia Tech.

“On the recruiting trip, the team, everyone on the team and the coaches, made me feel like I was part of the family. There’s really a big emphasis of everyone being part of a family and I love that aspect,” Bishop said.

“I believe I can go where I want to go by being a part of Virginia Tech’s program,” she said.

Alongside her senior season swimming for NSA, Bishop is training to make trial cut times for the 2010 Olympic Trials in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Bishop swims year around with the Old Dominion Aquatic Club.

Bishop’s 50-yard free title, in a time of 23.66 seconds, in the 2009 Virginia Swimming Senior Championships broke a 24-year-old state record in the 13-14 year old group.

Bishop won nine state championship and set five marks which were “T16”, or one of the top 16 times in the nation for the year, in the 2009 Virginia Swimming Age Group Championships. She set a meet record and broke a 23-year-old state record with a time of 51.74 in the 100-yard freestyle — breaking Whitney Hedgepath’s record. Hedgepath went on to be a three-time U.S. Olympian, winning two individual silver medals and a relay gold medal in the 1996 Olympics.

“My biggest goal is to make the trial cuts before going to college,” Bishop said.

Bishop’s next key point in that goal is the Junior National Short Course Championships in March.

In the Virginia State Independent Schools record books, Bishop has the 200 free mark (1:49.75), the 100 free record (51.06) and the 100 back record (57.13).

VT head coach Ned Skinner will be Bishop’s primary coach in sprint events. Bishop will be concentrating on the 50, 100 and 200 free, the 100 back and the 100 butterfly.

Bishop wants to study something in the science and math fields. She’s interested in Virginia Tech’s engineering programs.

“I feel everything about it is the perfect match,” Bishop said.

Bishop’s been a Saint since starting at NSA in pre-kindergarten in 1998.

Family ties probably gave the Hokies an extra step in the recruiting process. Gabrielle’s two older sisters are Hokies. Britney is a 2004 NSA alum and graduated from VT in 2008. Jade graduated in 2008 from NSA and is a senior in Blacksburg.