WXXV Student Athlete of the Week: Alex Raybourn
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, News 25 featured a student athlete of the week segment during high school football season.
But now, News 25’s Grace Boyles is bringing that concept back to the entire school year each Wednesday.
Starting at Gulfport High School where Alex Raybourn checks in as the first local profile of 2021.
Just one week removed from making her college plans official, the senior is still pulling double duty between land and sea, and she’s not letting a global pandemic stand in her way.
Only a few years after learning how to walk, Gulfport’s Alex Raybourn was thrown into the pool and she’s barely left the water ever since. It wasn’t until last year, she finally decided to dry off and try a sport on land: powerlifting. “I joined kind of as a joke. I was like ‘ha ha what if I did powerlifting,’ but then I really liked it and I just kept going with it.”
In addition to powerlifting, Raybourn swims competitively year-round and trains six days a week, three of which she’s in the water morning and night.
With such an intense training regimen, the senior swim captain says one of the most difficult aspects of being a dual-sport athlete is staying passionate. “When you stay dedicated for so long it’s easy to get burned out and like ‘oh I don’t want to be here anymore,’ ‘I’m just tired, I’d rather go home.’ And you definitely have some hard days, so just finding ways to stay in love with your sport is something that is definitely hard to do.”
However, when the love of the game isn’t quite enough, it’s the progress that feels the best. “Just looking back at like ‘woah’ those used to be my times. I’ve gotten so much better.”
Whether it’s pumping iron in the weight room or making waves in the pool, Raybourn has grown to be a prominent leader in Gulfport athletics, something her swim coach Missy Allen has recognized saying “Alex is remarkable. She’s very mature and she’s not a quitter. She knows where her strength comes from, it comes from God.”
While the COVID-19 shutdown last year left many athletes struggling with what to do, Raybourn used that time to answer some big life questions. She learned she wanted to pursue a career in sports psychology and she didn’t want to give up on swimming just yet. “During the end of high school season in October I was like I don’t know if I can– if I’m ready to be done with this yet. This has been my life for so long and I saw what my life was like without it. I’m not ready to do that yet.”
Following her heart, Raybourn recently signed her National Letter of Intent to swim for Millsaps in Jackson. “Oh my gosh. This school has done so many amazing things for me. Being such a big school, I’ve had the ability to be friends with so many different groups of people.”
Outside of athletics, Raybourn takes multiple advanced placement classes and is in the choir. Sometimes, she even sings the National Anthem before games.
At the end of the month, Raybourn will be competing in her first-ever USA Swimming State championship.
Raybourn calls herself a back-stroker, but also competes in middle-distance freestyle.
If you know of anyone on the Coast that deserves to be featured as News 25 Student Athlete of the Week you can contact Grace Boyles via email at GBoyles@wxxv25.com or on Twitter @GraceBBoyles or on Facebook at Grace Boyles WXXV.