Four years ago, Trey Shackleton's swimming stroke was, as he puts it, the "doggy paddle." Today this PA Cyber freshman, who counts among his ancestors the legendary Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, is a nationally ranked swimmer.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa.– While the world was watching swimmers at the Olympic Games in London this summer, a PA Cyber Charter School freshman named Trey Shackleton, 14, advanced his own Olympic dreams by taking top individual honors at a Junior Olympics Swimming event here in Pennsylvania.
Swimming in the Middle Atlantic Junior Olympic Swimming Championships at State College, Pa., July 26-29, the Northwestern Lehigh County teen raced in 10 individual events over four days, winning four firsts, two seconds, and a third.
Trey’s times in the four freestyle events that he won - the 200, 400, 800, and 1500 meter freestyle, along with his second place in the 400 meter individual medley - rank him in USA Swimming’s top 100 swimmers nationwide. His highest national rank is 17th in the 1500 meter freestyle.
His combined score put him far ahead of his closest competitor among age 13-14 boys for the event high point award in the event.
Herbert Shackleton III, who answers to his numeric nickname, said his immediate goals are to qualify the next couple of years to compete in Junior Nationals and earn a scholarship to swim for an NCAA Division I school after graduation from PA Cyber.
His dream is to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympic Games, an amazing goal considering that four years ago his swimming stroke, as he describes it, was “doggy paddle.”
Before enrolling in PA Cyber last year, Trey had been home-schooled. He took up swimming to satisfy the state’s physical education requirement.
“As a homeschooler I needed to have a sport for physical education,” he said. “Four years ago I learned to swim competitively. I enjoyed it and began practicing with Parkland Area Aquatic Club (PAAC) and found I could excel.”
PAAC is a nationally recognized club competing year-round in the Middle Atlantic Local Swimming Conference, competing against teams from Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Delaware.
"I enjoy meeting my competitors and have made many friends from these other clubs,” said Trey. “The team also attends and hosts many meets with teams from all over the eastern United States.
“Two of my teammates have gone on to compete in the recent Olympic time trials and I have set a goal to one day compete in them as well.”
The family resides in New Tripoli, Pa. Trey’s father, Herbert Shackleton Jr., is an executive working in Philadelphia. His mother Elena home-schooled both Trey and his sister Aune, who is now 19 and a sophomore at Kutztown University majoring in communications design.
As a graphic artist herself, Elena felt competent to home-school Aune through high school. Trey was a different story.
“Trey is very academically oriented,” his mother said. “He was advancing so fast that he had completed the ninth grade curriculum when he was seventh grade by age. I couldn’t hold him back but I worried that I was accelerating him too much. I didn’t want him to be a 15-year-old senior entering college.”
Also she felt unqualified to teach the advanced science and math courses Trey would need to prepare for college. “I knew a lot of people who had done PA Cyber. I had come to the end of my knowledge. I felt PA Cyber could take him to the next level.”
The ability of PA Cyber to customize education for each student’s abilities, needs and goals will allow Trey to advance on a relatively normal timetable of high school courses while also taking advanced and dual enrollment college courses. The school’s flexibility in scheduling courses can be adapted to fit around the rigorous daily training schedule that Trey would need to follow if he does decide to reach for the brass ring.
There are many miles of water for Trey to swim between now and those 2016 Olympic Games, but he does have the bloodline for such an ambitious goal.
Trey is a direct descendant of Irishman Henry Shackleton, brother to the famous explorer and adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose desperate 1916 open-boat sail across 800 miles of Antarctic ocean water is one of the great survival adventures of modern history.
PA Cyber Press Release, Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, contact Fred Miller, 724.777.5918, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trey and his father, Herbert Shackleton Jr.