Indya Wooten has a favorite T-shirt that features a rather compelling catchphrase.
It reads: “IF YOU THINK YOUR SPORT IS HARD, TRY DOING IT HOLDING YOUR BREATH.”
For Wooten, an 11-year-old Memphian, she has learned the art of holding her breath as an avid swimmer for the Mid-South Swimming League, an organization sanctioned by the Davis YMCA in Southeast Memphis.
By and large, Wooten, a fifth grader at Horn Lake Intermediate School, has made great strides as an amateur swimmer, a trend that, to her credit, has inspired her to adopt lofty dreams of appearing on a Summer Olympic stage someday.
Introduced to swimming by her grandparents six years ago, Wooten has gone from participating in an organized class in which she was taught the basic swimming mechanics for approximately five weeks to having competed in a numbers of competitive meets throughout the Southern region.
“She just loves to swim and hopes to one day swim in the Olympics,” Barbara Thomas, Indya’s grandmother, said during a recent interview with MemphiSport.
Although she has been swimming competitively for such a brief time, Wooten’s display in the water has benefited her considerably on the amateur circuit. For starters, this young, vibrant athlete has gone to great lengths to upgrade her swim skills, most notably in the free style, butterfly, and backstroke events, in large part because of the one-on-one attention she has acquired from her coach, veteran swimmer Dominique Primer.
Primer said what she labels mostly intriguing about Indya is the competitive drive she brings to her team, let alone her keen ability to devise ways to improve.
“Indya is very dedicated to swimming and her dedication to her workouts shows as much,” Primer said in assessing Wooten’s rise as amateur. “Indya constantly ask for feedback and continues to find new ways to improve her stoke, speed, as well as her endurance. She had a spectacular season as a new swimmer. I look forward to working with her for many seasons to come.”
To her credit, it’s safe to assume that Wooten doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon as it relates to her talents as a rising swim standout. Among the reasons is that even as an amateur, she devotes long hours to the sports, practicing as much as three hours a day, particularly when she is preparing for competition.
Her next meet takes places later this month when she puts her skills on display in the Mid-South Swimming Championships at the Henderson Aquatics Center in Tunica, Miss.
“If you ask Indya, she will tell you that Coach Doma (Primer) is hard especially on days that she has to practice for over three hours,” Thomas said. “However, she understands that being tough makes her better and most weeks she is in practice for five days and for several hours.”
As far as Wooten is concerned, she doesn’t shy from the notion that swimming is beneficial in that it can help greatly with regards to enhancing one’s confidence and self-esteem, especially during times in which kids her age face an assortment of peer pressure.
“This sport will inspire them to try it,” Wooten said. “The discipline you learn in swimming helps you throughout life because it teaches you patience and it teaches you have to trust yourself.”
Not only that, among the key attributes Wooten finds intriguing is the camaraderie she has established with other individuals who have embraced the sport much like she has.
“I have a great deal of respect for my teammates and other swimmers,” she said, adding that her father, Nicholas Wooten is her grandest cheerleader. “I’m in the pool practicing even when there is no practice.”
Spoken like a future Olympian.