Hello, My Name Is: Amber Winter
The Merrill senior has been dominating the pool since she was nine, but she also wants to pass her passion on to the future
MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW) - Amber Winter’s career in the pool ironically started nowhere near the water.
“I was at a parade in Merrill and one of the moms threw a shirt at me,” said Amber. “I went to my mom and when I asked her, ‘Can I join swim?’ She was like, ‘Alright, we can give it a shot.”
Amber was just eight when she caught that ‘Merril Aqua Jays’ t-shirt. Almost instantly, she had a new passion.
She loved it from day one and it’s been a story ever since,” said Kristie Winter, Amber’s mom and coach.
The love made plenty of sense. Kristie was a swimmer herself in school, even swimming at UW-Stevens Point. Just like her mom, the talent in Amber was apparent.
”I have pictures of her when she was little with the first blue ribbon that she got when she was eight years old,” said Kristie. “She got the itch and that was it.”
When Amber was nine-years-old, Kristie became her coach. As Amber got more and more into the sport, with her mom at her side, the more her career began to flourish. Amber’s competed at a state meet every year since she was nine, in addition to meets all around the country.
“She’s been with me every step of the way and I probably couldn’t have done this without her,” said Amber. “I just love every minute of it even though she is my coach and she yells a lot at me at practice, but I really wouldn’t want any other coach right now.”
Now a senior at Merrill, Amber competed in her final state meet earlier in November. In her prime event, the 100-yard breaststroke, Amber ended her state competitions on a high note. She took first in D2 with a time of 1:04.45 in an experience she said she takes great pride in.
“It was still really nerve-wracking but I think I just wanted to enjoy the moment because it was my senior year,” said Amber. “I just wanted to go out there and give no regrets.”
Even while being busy in competition and training herself, which includes early morning weightlifting and 5,000 yards of swimming every night, Amber isn’t done in the pool. All throughout high school, Amber’s helped her mom coach the young kids in Merrill in swimming, something she’s wanted to do since she herself was ten years old.
“I want to give the kids the same aspect of growing up with a small town, where you know everybody and that you really get to evolve with the team,” said Amber. “I really like doing that with them.”
It’s a rewarding thing, not just for Amber, but for Kristie, who sees her daughter follow in her footsteps.
”She has always been a leader in the pool and outside of it so coaching was just a natural progression,” said Kristie.
Amber will continue swimming next year for UW-Eau Claire, but she’ll also take her love of coaching with her as well. She’s studying to be a teacher and a coach herself one day, knowing she loves the connections she makes with the kids.
”It’s really neat to see them grow up, not just as swimmers, but as their personalities grow too,” said Amber.
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