Salina Central's Azbey Peckham having dream season in swimming pool

Dylan Sherwood
Salina Journal

Azbey Peckham has dreamed of her freshman season in swimming for many years. 

She's making an immediate impact on a Salina Central team that is senior-laden with Olivia Moore, Kate Jennings, and Chloe White. 

"I've always just been a swimmer," Peckham said. "I started swimming because I thought some of these older girls were so cool for swimming. This has been a dream season for me so far.

"Chloe White is the reason I started swimming in the first place. Being on a relay with her that's going to state is just so special and all the girls make me feel welcomed. I feel like I have an impact on the team, which is really fun." 

Peckham is a part of the 200-yard medley relay team and 200-yard freestyle relay team that has already qualified for state. She is also on the 400-yard freestyle relay team that has a consideration time for state. Individually, Peckham has qualified for state in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke, and on Thursday, she got a consideration time for state in the 500-yard freestyle. 

Salina swim coach Dawn Sheforgen said Peckham has fit in perfectly with the others. 

"She's just a super nice person, as well as a really hard worker," Sheforgen said. "She pushes the girls in practice every day that need that and want that. She's also just a nice teammate to have because she's supportive of everyone."


Moore said Peckham is one of the best swimmers the Mustangs have.

"As a freshman, she's just killer," Moore said. "She brings insane times and insane motivation. She really motivates the team to be the best that they can be. 

"She's just an all-around great swimmer. She's just really great at everything, swimming, motivation, attitude."

Central junior Zoe Burmaster is proud of what Peckham has accomplished in a short amount of time. 

"She's so hard working," Burmaster said. "She's so driven. She's the most competitive person on this team."  

In Central's second home meet Thursday at the Salina South Natatorium, the 200 medley relay of Peckham, Moore, Burmaster, and Jennings finished second with a time of 2:03.50. Peckham was third in the 200 IM (2:31.49), second in the 500 free (6:03.58), and the 400 relay team of  Peckham, White, Burmaster, and Moore took second (4:12.03). 

Burmaster breaks school record again in 100 backstroke 


Burmaster broke her own school record in the backstroke, trimming off .36 off her previous time taking first with a time of 1:03.37. 

"I was really happy with it," Burmaster said. "I was so glad that all the work in practice is paying off and that I can do it with my team.

"It's just the best feeling ever ... to be here with my team and break it again and PR in my home pool." 

With Burmaster being the first to break a school record in 2021, it's encouraging her teammates to do the same in other events. 

"Right now, we're trying to break times and trying to break some school records," Moore said.  "We're a really close-knit team. There's not a whole lot of us, but we definitely have the quality. We're really close.

"We're doing well. We're killing times and always PRing. We have great motivation. We're always keeping each other in high spirits."

Burmaster said the ultimate goal is to get everyone's name on the record board. 

"The girls at Central are looking at the varsity records," Sheforgen said. "Those are records that they want to take down. They want to change those boards." 

Central took third as a team in its division with 338 points. The Mustangs also got a pair of third-place finishes from Moore in the 100 back (1:07.62) and 100 free (1:00.26). Burmaster took fourth in the 100-yard butterfly (1:08.26). White added a fifth-place finish in the 200 free (2:34.87). 

South girls looking up towards Central 

Because of the Central girls' experienced, they are being looked up to by a South team composed of multiple first-year swimmers.

South finished sixth in its division with 256 points. The Cougars had one first-place finish with Kamryn Kelsey winning diving (184.15), followed by Ally Exline in second (174.80). Rachel Sims was fourth (127.95).

Exline took fourth in the 200 IM (2:52.02). Maeci Exline swam a 6:54.01 in the 500 free, good for fourth.

The 400 free relay team of Ally and Maeci Exline, Sims and Isabel Fulkerson finished fourth with a time of 4:42,71. Fulkerson took fifth in the 200 free (2:34.68)

"Those girls are dropping times ... that makes swimming more fun when you have personal improvement and then some of them have those swims where they really have great races and score points for the team," Sheforgen said.  That's kind of cool when you're a first-year swimmer to have those opportunities. They're working really hard.

"Every meet, they get to see those improvements. South and Central, they'll work together and help each other out. They really want everybody to improve."

Peckham said South's girls are pushing Central's girls to improve on a daily basis.

"All of us just work together, and even though maybe it's one relay that qualifies for state or a couple of relays, it's just a team effort," Peckham said.