Profile: Skyline freshman Lily Cleason is making a (first) name for herself

By Terry Jacoby/

The last name should sound familiar, but it’s the first name that is trying to make a name for herself.

The Cleason name is special in high school swimming in these parts but Lily is making a big splash on her own terms and in her own unique way.

“I was very excited to start my high school swimming career with Skyline,” says the standout freshman. “I have really enjoyed the team and have had fun practicing and competing with people from different swim backgrounds.”

And her career is off the blocks in a big way. Cleason has already qualified for the state finals in the 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke and as a member of two relays.

“My goal this year was to make the State team in my individual events and contribute to the team’s success,” she says. “I actually just swam state qualifying times at our last meet against Pioneer in the 100 backstroke and the 200 freestyle. I really would like to get the 500 free State cut next.”

The Eagles, under the direction of excellent coach Maureen Murrett, also are swimming along in the fast lane – as usual. “The team’s goal was to form a united group that would help and support each other and have a positive environment, not one with drama.”

And how is that going?

“The team has been working very hard and has shown improvement over the season,” Cleason says. “Mojo (Murrett), Stu, Lindsay and Paul all coach us to be better swimmers and better people. I am excited for my teammates to compete at SECs. We have had fun cheering each other on at our dual meets. I am really looking forward to the bigger meets.”

And while each swimmer has different individual goals with their swimming careers, the Eagles are all on the same page when it comes to T-E-A-M.

“I feel we make a really good team,” Cleason says. “We work hard, but also have fun together in and out of the pool and I enjoy all the traditions that Skyline has developed over the years.”

Cleason is well versed in the Skyline traditions. Both her sister Emma and brother David were outstanding swimmers for the Eagles and both now swim at the University of Michigan. She says she learned a lot from her older siblings.

“Emma always told me when I complained about a practice hurting or a set being particularly hard that when you start to hurt is when you start to improve,” Lily said. “That it is OK to be sore after working so hard.

“David likes to help with my technique and usually has little changes that make a big difference, like helping me with my butterfly kick. They both are always interested in seeing my races. When they cannot make one of my meets, my mom or dad always videos the races for them to watch later.”

Lily, the daughter of Becky and Keith Cleason, is very much her own swimmer. While she listens to all the advice coming from all directions, she takes what she needs and uses it all to her advantage. And even at this young age, Lily is doing a great job of representing the Cleasons that came before her.

“I wouldn’t say she has big shoes to fill because she is so different from Emma and David,” said Murrett, who has taken the boys and girls teams at Skyline to state titles. “She is forging her own path. Lily is a really hard worker; ready for any challenge.”

Could she someday swim right past her talented sister and brother?

I can’t wait to see her improvement over the next four years,” Murrett says. “In fact, I think she just might surpass her siblings. And that’s saying something!

Lily, who swims year-round for Club Wolverine, is focused on her own career while keeping an eye on those family expectations. Emma and David set the bar very high and Lily is going to work as hard as she can to get there – maybe even surpass it. Remember, she gets to benefit from their experience, help, and love.

“My brother and sister have been a very big influence on me,” she says. “They do feel that our identity as a family is a swim family and when I was younger they told me I had to swim. I definitely went about it a little different than them, but now I understand what it takes to be a successful swimmer and I do hope to be as competitive as they were in their high school swimming careers.”

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