Dover YMCA swimmer competing at nationals

DOVER — When the YMCA National swimming championships commence this week in Maryland, Dover will be represented.

Danielle Stewart, a 15-year-old from the Dover YMCA, will be competing in three events at the event held at the University of Maryland. Stewart is Dover’s first YMCA Nationals qualifier in more than five years.

“It took a lot of time and dedication,” Stewart said. “I couldn’t have gotten there without my team and my teammates supporting me at meets, cheering me on and my coaches especially coach Brenden Smith.”

Smith is the competitive aquatics director at the Dover YMCA — a position he’s held for the last four years.

Since he took over the position, the swimming program has grown from 80 kids to more than 140. He’s hopeful Stewart’s accomplishment will lead to even more growth and more national qualifiers.

“First one in five years, that’s big,” Smith said. “Danielle knocked the door down for us and hopefully we’ll have more kids going in the future.”

Stewart will be competing in the 50 freestyle, the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. There are more than 1,000 swimmers entered in the national championships and 114 teams participating.

Stewart is going into her sophomore year at Caesar Rodney High. She set the Henlopen Conference championship meet record in the 500 freestyle and finished third in two events (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle) at the DIAA state championships as a freshman.

She said she has been swimming for almost 10 years.

“My mom and dad say I’ve always had a love for the water,” Stewart said.

Stewart hasn’t slowed down over the summer.

When asked what workouts she’s been doing, she chuckles.

“It’s always something crazy to be honest,” she said. “A lot of yards or meters. Sometimes I do 16 100s or 32 50s.”

Smith said whatever workout he puts together, Stewart attacks with the same intensity each time.

“She has a really strong work ethic,” Smith said. “Anything I throw at her, she does. She’s so self-motivating. Her dad and I are both New England Patriot fans so we like to kid around and tell her you know things like, ‘Do your job.’ or, ‘No days off,’ and she really takes to that.”

Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at or 741-8224.

Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.


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