Fort Walton Beach senior Paris Binard is the 2019 Daily News Girls Swimmer of the Year
FORT WALTON BEACH — Paris Binard never wanted to leave the pool.
From the age of 4 until her high school swimming career wrapped up this past November at the 3A Florida High School Swimming & Diving State Championships, the Fort Walton Beach senior has always felt most comfortable in the water.
It was a constant in a life featuring constant upheaval. Binard’s mother, Kristi, serves in the Air Force and that occupation has taken her across the country and beyond, as it does so many others. As a result, Binard spent her middle school years at Liza Jackson Preparatory School before spending two years in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and finally returning to Fort Walton Beach as a junior.
The move back was the best one she could have made. Although her mother is now stationed at Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, Binard said her parents’ support remains strong, and reuniting with her friends propelled her to two top-10 swims at state and now the Daily News Girls Swimmer of the Year Award.
“Just being able to reconnect with the team that I had when I was younger just made me feel like I was back at home,” she said. “I think that was a really big part of (my success), just to have those connections to boost my morale and really get me going.”
And get her going it did.
Binard’s two signature events are the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, and she crushed them both at state, placing ninth in the backstroke with a time of 59.40 seconds and seventh in the freestyle. Her time of 24.42 seconds in the latter event was just 0.05 seconds away from vaulting herself into fifth place.
The performance led the Vikings to a 23rd-place finish.
Although Binard was pleased with those marks, her best performance in backstroke came away from the pools in Stuart and her 50-freestyle was just short of the postseason PR she set in 2018. She posted a 58.73 in the backstroke at the Region 1-3A meet a week prior to state, earning fifth place, and she posted a 24.20 in the 50-yard freestyle at the 2A state meet in 2018.
Binard credits much of that success to the work she put in while in Colorado.
“While I was there, I was on two different club teams and I was at one high school and all the coaches I had were just amazing,” she said. “They really got me into the mindset that I could do what I wanted to do and I could do it in a way where I was continuously getting faster and continuously progressing.
“They really helped me perfect my stroke and be able to gain speed while keeping the integrity of my stroke.”
Nathaniel Rudman, Binard’s teammate and the Daily News Boys Swimmer of the Year, can attest to the difference.
“I’m very proud of her, and I’m very proud of the swimmer and person she’s become,” he said. “I met her right around fourth or fifth grade when she moved here from (Europe) and she came onto our swim team.
“It was actually really fun watching her grow up ’cause we’re both way different than when we were when we first met.”