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Neal signs with USI swimming team

May 20, 2022 | 12:04 am

Updated May 20, 2022 | 12:47 am

Photo courtesy of Paige Neal

After a dominant run during her four years at Owensboro High School, Paige Neal will continue her swimming career not far from home after signing with the University of Southern Indiana.

“It feels pretty amazing because it tells me I will be continuing on the path I dreamed of going on my whole life,” Neal said. “Just going to college and continuing my swimming career and to add on the level I will be competing in, it’s crazy.”

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While it was Neal who initially expressed interest in the school, she said that USI’s coaching staff made it evident just how much they wanted her to join the team.

“Well when I first filled out my athletic form for the school Coach Kainer emailed me not 10 minutes after I submitted it and that showed me how eager he was to find swimmers,” Neal said. “He was very nice and welcoming and has really good future goals for the team like being family oriented and wants our academics to come first. He supports us as our individual selves and not just as his athletes. They also just of course added their new aquatic center and what swimmer doesn’t like a nice pool. After all that’s where we’ll spend a majority of our time.”

Neal had a few references that had told her that she would love the school and after having her tour she was sold. Stunned by the beautiful campus she had seen, Neal knew in her gut that USI was the place for.

On top of continuing her swimming career at the collegiate level, Neal plans to study nursing—specifically neonatal—in hopes to work with babies in the future. Given her passion for baby dolls to this day, this career decision was an easy one for Neal.

“Ever since I was younger I’ve loved baby dolls as you know almost every little girl does growing up, but I still do today as a 17, almost 18 year old,” Neal said. “I’m very passionate about them and I don’t tell this to a lot of people, but I’ve become more and more proud of it as I’ve gotten older, I actually still ‘play’ with baby dolls. I own two what are called Reborn Dolls which are these very hyper realistic dolls that people collect and I happen to be one of those people. They are handmade and hand painted and weighed to feel real and they are mobile to move around like real babies when you hold them, they are absolutely incredible.” 

Neal noted that while she is ready to take the next step in this new chapter of her life, she will miss all of the friends, teachers and coaches she made so many memories with.

“What I’m going to miss most about my school is just all of my friends and teachers,” Neal said. “I’ve met a lot of great people these past four years who have really changed my life for the better and I will truly miss them. Same kind of goes for my team. I’m going to definitely miss my coaches because they helped get me to this point in my life to have this opportunity to go swim in college. “

Neal also let it be known that Owensboro swimming couldn’t keep her away for long, as she intends to be back to support her former teammates and friends since she won’t be far from home.

“I’m also going to miss all of the younger swimmers I got to swim with the past two years,” Neal said. “I got really close with a lot of them including two freshman girls Whitley and Zoie. They are two of my best friends and I am going to miss them so much. But I plan on trying to come back here and there throughout the season so I can continue to watch all of them swim and improve like I know they are capable of.”

May 20, 2022 | 12:04 am

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