Not too many swimmers were able to beat Ali Terrell last year. More often than not, her toughest opponent was herself.

The Franklin standout had what most would consider a successful sophomore season last winter, winning all of her events at the county and sectional meets and posting a pair of top-15 individual finishes at the state meet.

Yet in her mind, it was seldom good enough.

“In practice, I was doing totally fine; I was doing everything right in practice,” Terrell said. “But whenever I got to a meet, it just seemed like things fell apart. That’s not the case; it was just how I was thinking. I struggled with a lot of self doubt, just negative thoughts.”

Franklin coach Zach DeWitt said he believes Terrell was a victim of paralysis by analysis, needlessly picking herself apart and focusing on what she was doing wrong instead of what she was doing right.

“She is a student of the game,” DeWitt said. “She overanalyzes and analyzes to the n’th degree, and a lot of times what happens when you have somebody like that is sometimes they can tend to overthink races and overthink the process.”

Over the past year, Terrell has been taking steps to build her confidence up — after each day’s practice, for instance, she writes down three positives — and she’s putting less pressure on herself to clock in with a personal best every time she hits the water.

Don’t think, she tells herself now. Just race.

The new approach seems to be working thus far. Terrell’s times this season are well below what they were a year ago at the same time, and DeWitt is confident that trend will continue throughout the rest of Franklin’s schedule.

“I’m a big, big believer in Ali Terrell,” he said. “I’ll buy all the stock I can get.”

That’s bad news for the rest of the field going into Saturday’s Johnson County meet, where Terrell is the defending champion in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200 individual medley, setting a meet record last year in the latter.

Franklin doesn’t measure its success by what happens in December, though; county is little more than “a nice pulse check” for the Grizzly Cubs, who easily won the boys and girls titles last year and are heavy favorites to do so again.

The real measuring stick comes in February at the IUPUI Natatorium, where the Franklin girls will be trying to at least match their current state ranking (fifth).

If Terrell can continue to whittle her times down, she’s likely to make an even bigger contribution than she did as  a sophomore, when she was 14th in the 200 IM, 15th in the breaststroke and helped put two relays into championship finals.

“She’s a different person than she was last December,” DeWitt said of Terrell, “and I know she’s going to get what she deserves this year because she’s definitely put in the time from a mental standpoint in order to grow.”

If you go

Johnson County swimming & diving

Where: Indian Creek HS natatorium

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Tickets: $5

Johnson County wrestling

Where: Indian Creek HS gymnasium

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Tickets: $5

By the numbers

Ali Terrell has changed her mental approach this season, and it appears to be working. A look at the Franklin junior’s times from the Hall of Fame Classic earlier this month compared with last year’s times at the same event:

Event;2016 time;2017 time

50 breaststroke;32.10;31.33

200 breaststroke;2:28.21;2:25.32

400 IM;4:35.30;4:31.27

100 breaststroke*;1:08.1;1:06.55

* – relay leg

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.