Bishop signs scholarship with Hokies

Published 7:45 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk senior Gabrielle Bishop, second from left, signed a National Letter of Intent and athletic scholarship offer to attend and swim for Virginia Tech on Wednesday at NSA. Gabrielle was joined by her father Trenton, older sister Britney, a 2004 NSA alum and 2008 Virginia Tech alum, and mother Tory.

Gabrielle Bishop has raced to conference and state swimming titles for Nansemond-Suffolk for four years.

Saint head coach Karen Norman counts Bishop as a part of her team for much longer than that.

When Gabrielle’s older sisters, Jade, a 2008 Nansemond-Suffolk graduate, and Britney, a 2004 NSA alum, were Lady Saint swimmers, Gabrielle spent lots of time hanging around practices and the YMCA pool.

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“She’d want to join in and get in the pool so badly,” Norman said.

Even then, when Gabrielle was in elementary school, she would’ve been able to help Norman’s squads out.

“The girls wanted Gabrielle on their relays because she probably could’ve beaten about half the team,” Norman said.

“Gabrielle’s been an NSA swimmer since she was in second or third grade,” Norman said.

With her senior season as a Saint approaching, Bishop officially committed to Virginia Tech’s swimming program and the “H20kies” by signing a National Letter of Intent and athletic scholarship offer in front of family, friends and teachers on Wednesday afternoon at Nansemond-Suffolk.

Bishop’s won or been a relay member for nine Virginia Independent Schools state championships for the Lady Saints.

She holds three VIS state records: in the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.75), 100 free (51.06) and 100 back (57.13). Of 16 Saint program swimming records on the books, Bishop holds 11 of them.

Beyond Nansemond-Suffolk and varsity competition, Bishop is a multi-time state champion and top national competitor for the Old Dominion Aquatic Club and in USA Swimming.

Bishop’s working toward qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

Bishop won nine state championships at the 2009 Virginia Swimming Age Group Championships, setting times in five events that were in the top 16 of the nation for the year. Her time of 51.74 in the 100-yard free broke a 23-year-old state record.

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

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

Gabrielle’s following in her sisters’ footsteps by being a Hokie. Britney graduated from VT in 2008 and Jade is a senior there.

Trenton, Gabrielle’s father, opened the signing ceremony in NSA’s media center by playing a few seconds of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” — the well-known entrance theme for every Hokie home football game.

“Gabrielle’s a great student,” said Don Birmingham, NSA’s director of college counseling. “She’s a high-A student, a member of the National Honor Society. She strives for excellence in all she does and she’s an exceptional representative of NSA.”

“To say I’m excited for Gabrielle is such an understatement,” Norman said.

“For a swimmer to compete at the national level, and now at the D-1 (NCAA Division 1) level, it’s a huge commitment,” Norman said.