Helene Neuhaus is setting her sights on swimming for the Estonia Olympic team in 2012. A senior captain for the Staples girls swimming team, she's confident she can make the team.

"I'm training very hard and depending on how things go this summer, I can make the Estonian team," Neuhaus said.

Training hard is never a problem for her, which she does during the school year, but when school is out, she'll have even more time to fine tune her skills in the pool. This work ethic enabled her to earn the Block S Team MVP award as well All-FCIAC and All-State honors and won the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 52.98 seconds at the FCIAC championships.

"It's definitely rewarding because I trained hard for it and it's nice to see your hard work pay off," Neuhaus said.

Staples Coach Mike Laux enjoyed coaching her and especially liked the fact that Neuhaus could excel in many events.

"Helene is an outstanding athlete, a true leader, a compassionate person and fights for what's right," Laux said. "She's got a very strong willpower and she's capable of doing great things."

The Lady Wreckers have been strong during her tenure. She consistently scored points for them in the 50-free, 100-free, 100-back, 200-free relay and 400-free relay. Freshman year, she swum the breaststroke but switched to the backstroke because she injured her knee.

"I like to switch things up because training can be monotonous," Neuhaus said. "Swimming is my passion. I'm always excited and I go for it."

Sophomore and junior year, she won the 100-yard backstroke at the Class LL championships. She didn't get a chance to win a third straight title in the backstroke because she switched to freestyle for the good of the team.

"Laux said he needed a freestyler and I wasn't bad at it, so I changed my training and worked on freestyle sets," Neuhaus said.

In the relays, she either anchored the team or swam the second leg. Her drive to succeed fueled her success in it and enabled Staples to excel in relays.

"When I see someone ahead of a teammate, it motivates me to catch her," Neuhaus said. "I'm a very competitive person and I guess I was born with it."

Although she experienced success in individual events, she finds relays to be more rewarding.

"I prefer relays because I like to work with everyone," Neuhaus said. "When we win, it's a team win and I feel more people can share their excitement when we win as a relay."

She began to swim seriously at age 7-8 but her first foray in the pool was at 3 when she took off her arm devices, which was like a life jacket, and swam across a deep pool in France. This scared her parents and all the other adults.

"Everyone was ready to jump in and save me but I swam across the pool," Neuhaus recalled.

On what possessed her to do it, she said, "I was fearless. I guess I was born with it and I guess I'm competitive."

Leadership is a strength of hers as she was one of five girls to serve as captain. She mostly led by example through her work ethic but also encouraged her teammates as well.

"It was a lot of fun and I was happy to lead the team," Neuhaus said. "I wanted to work out and I jumped in the pool. I try to compete with the girls who do the most pullups and I try to motivate the girls."

Academically, she has seen her grades go up. Her favorite subject is English or any course that requires her to debate because of her competitive nature and desire to express her beliefs.

The ability to balance schoolwork with swimming also contribute to her success in the classroom.

"It's tough to balance them and it comes down to time management," Neuhaus said. "Swimming makes my life more structured and it makes it easier."

Next year, she will attend college and hopes to major in prelaw. She's undecided about where she'll go but plans on swimming for her school and knows she'll have to raise her performance in order to be successful at this level.

"I'm looking forward to it," Neuhaus said. "There will be a lot more competition than in high school and it will be a big challenge. Because I'm gutsy, confident and competitive when I get on the blocks, I can swim fast."