Bushell quietly leads way for Tigers
Billy Hurst | For The Telegraph
EDWARDSVILLE — While Edwardsville swimmer Josie Bushell remains a quiet weapon, she stepped up her pace to prove she’s a deadly one in the 2018 season.
Call her the stealth swimmer.
She runs silent but makes a big impression at the finish – where more often than not, she’s first.
Bushell, who advanced to the IHSA Girls State Swim meet with a pair of first-place sectional finishes and was part of two winning EHS relay teams, is also a repeat Telegraph Swimmer of the Year honoree, edging out teammate Phoebe Gremaud.
“I like to lead with my swimming,” Bushell said. “I’m not really the loud type.”
“Josie has become a very solid, dependable swimmer,” EHS coach Christian Rhoten said. “Her times at state were almost right on to where they were at the sectional.”
Bushell advanced to the IHSA state meet with first-place finishes in the 100-yard freestyle, the 200 freestyle and was a member of the first-place EHS teams in the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay.
At state, Bushell finished 22nd in the 100 freestyle prelims in a time of 53.06. She finished 30th in the 200 freestyle in a time with of 1:55.63. She also was joined by Gremaud, Allison Naylor and Autumn Grinter in the 200-yard freestyle relay finished 24th with a time of 1:38.80. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the same four swimmers had a time of 3:37.47, dropping 2.05 seconds from their seed time for a 24th-place finish in the prelims.
“Swimming at the state meet is different from any other meet,” Bushell said. “It’s really intense and exciting.”
At the state meet in Evanston, Bushell swam in half the Tigers’ eight events. And while she did not advance from the preliminaries to the finals, she moved up the ladder from her sophomore season.
“Every year we go to the state meet and get a little more experience,” Rhoten said, “so hopefully next year she’ll reach the finals in those individual events and help us reach the finals in the relays as well.”
At the Springfield Sectional, Bushell won the 200 freestyle in 1:55.14, won the 100 freestyle in 52.66 seconds and, along with her relay team partners, won the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Bushell, who also swims for the Edwardsville YMCA Breakers, returned with her family to Edwardsville as an eighth-grader after living several years in Louisville, Kentucky, her she began swimming in summer league.
“We used to live in Edwardsville and we were going to join the Breakers just before we moved to Louisville,” Bushell said. “I started swimming on a summer team in Louisville, kind of like the Water Works summer team, so when we moved back, we already knew that was where we’d swim.”
Upon her return, Bushell joined the Breakers swim team and head coach Bob Rettle recognized her strong work ethic and the way she was serious about her workouts.
“(Bushell) is the real deal,” Rettle said. “She focuses and works hard. She knows that;’ what it takes.”
In addition to her success with EHS, Bushell has become a standout with the Breakers, including advancing to the YMCA Swim Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina.
In addition to training and competing for the Breakers, Bushell is swimming this summer for the Montclaire Marlins in the Southwestern Illinois Swim Association. She’s helped the team to an undefeated dual meet season, including a season-opening win over longtime rival Summers Port of Godfrey.
At last month’s Clayton Shaw Park Meet, Bushell had a strong 73-point performance for the Breakers. The meet was in familiar surroundings for her after it was moved because of rain from the outdoor pool in Clayton to the Chuck Fruit Aquatic Center’s indoor pool.
Up next for Bushell is the conclusion of the SWISA season, which will include a dual meet against rival Sunset Hills and the annual SWISA Swim championship meet at the CFAC.
Also not far in the distant future will be her senior prep swim season.
“I think the sky is the limit for her,” Rettle said. “She has the experience and knows what it takes.”