2018-03-15 / News

Portsmouth Abbey swimmer sets mark


JOYCE JOYCE Sheila Joyce, a junior at Portsmouth Abbey, arrived at Roger Williams University with her goggles, swimsuit, swim cap and the two fastest 100-meter times in school history.

When she returned home following the meet, she unpacked the three fastest 100-meter times in school history.

Joyce, 16, was the top finisher for the Ravens during the March 1 meet, finishing runnerup in the 50-meter freestyle and swimming the 100-meter freestyle in 55.13 seconds. That is the fastest any girl from Portsmouth Abbey has ever swam 100 meters.

“It’s a tough sport, but when all that hard work pays off, I get a feeling of joy,” she said.

Joyce, of Meadow Lane, competed against 37 girls from 11 Division-II private schools in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council. That performance came less than a week after she dominated the Eastern Independent League championships at Simmons College, winning the 50-meter freestyle and swimming 100 meters in 55.22 seconds — a school record that stood for just five days. She was awarded All-EIL honors for the third consecutive year.

Along with her Portsmouth Abbey schedule, Joyce trains with Kingsfish Rhode Island, a club team headquartered at Roger Williams University. She said practice makes perfect, which is why she trains year-round for at least two hours a day.

“I have a great love for the sport,” she said. “I never mind the long practices.”

Joyce first wet her toes in the pool when she was 6 years old. She participated in the aquatics program at the Newport Boys and Girls Club before progressing to competitive swimming with the Barracuda Swim Team when she was 12.

While her swimming career began to blossom, she simultaneously worked toward another goal outside the pool. Joyce was 14 when she earned her black belt. Unlike the instant attraction to swimming, her link to karate was more happenstance.

“I went to a martial arts birthday party and really liked the studio,” she said.

Joyce hopes to achieve her second-degree black belt in the summer, which is typically when she volunteers at the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum’s gift shop.

“When I was a young girl I used to come to the state park all the time,” she said. “Working at the gift shop the past four years was a good way to give back to the community.”

Now that she can legally work, however, she hopes to find a job in town instead of volunteering. She is applying to be a lifeguard.

“Jamestown is such beautiful place to be outside, especially in the summer,” she said.

Along with volunteering, karate and swimming, Joyce also has been working hard in the classroom, posting a 3.85 grade point average while being named to the dean’s list for seven consecutive semesters.

“I enjoy my math and science classes,” she said. “I like that math is very straightforward, and I have a natural curiosity for new science developments.”

After high school, Joyce will pursue an engineering degree. She is touring Lehigh University, Lafayette College and Worcester Polytech Institute. Along with a solid engineering program, Joyce’s list of colleges has another requisite: a pool. She plans on swimming at the college level. Recruits are starting to look at her finishing times.

When she’s not kicking in the pool or kicking in the dojo, Joyce enjoys reading, jogging scenic routes on the island and watching Patriots games with her father, Donald.

“We love watching our New England sports,” she said.

Her family also loves watching Portsmouth Abbey sports.

“My mom, dad and sister are my biggest supporters,” she said. “My sister always reaches out to me before each meet to wish me luck.”

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