One may wonder if she was born with gills instead of lungs.

For Gabrielle Loring, there is nothing like being drenched in a certain odorless liquid mixed with chlorine.

Of course, that didn’t mean the teenager’s love for the aquatic lifestyle turned her into a sailfish.

"Like most swimmers, I always enjoyed being in the water, but I was never focused on technique," Loring said. "That leads me to believe I was average."

That once "average" sea creature sure looks more like a marlin these days.

And now Loring is ready to flap her powerful fins in another navigable waterway.

Appropriately enough, it makes its home near a river. The Hocking River, that is.

Loring recently signed a national letter of intent to continue her academic and swimming careers at Ohio University, a public research university in Athens. The Hudson senior freestyle specialist plans to major in biology on a pre-med track.

Loring, who took swimming lessons before her second birthday, chose the Bobcats over Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Washington University in St. Louis and The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Unlike most of her wet peers, this particular fish has a bit more drive to investigate and interact. Look at it this way: When it comes to the classroom, Loring doesn’t resemble a "fish out of water."

"I wanted a university that was close to home, but also a school that was going to challenge me both academically and athletically," Loring said. "I was looking for a program where I would be pushed and challenged to continue to improve and get faster."

She got significantly faster during her career with the Explorers.

Loring was a member of Hudson’s third-place 200 freestyle relay team and eighth-place 400 freestyle relay squad at the Division I state meet during the winter. The Explorers finished fifth in the team standings after placing third the previous two years.

With Loring playing a significant role, Hudson’s 200 and 400 freestyle relays received bronze medals at the 2019 state competition. Loring also finished 18th in the 200 individual medley and 20th in the 500 freestyle.

Loring, who swims for the Hudson Explorers Aquatics Team during the offseason, was a member of both freestyle relay teams at the 2018 state meet as well.

Not bad for someone who once considered herself an "average" swimmer, huh?

"I feel very fortunate to have been able to witness Gabrielle’s transformation as a swimmer over the last six to eight years while swimming for HEAT and for the high school team," Hudson/HEAT head coach Matt Davis said. "As far back as I can remember, she was always a fun-loving kid who was enjoyable to be around.

"As she got into middle school and into high school, I really enjoyed getting to know Gabrielle more. Gabrielle is a very determined individual and I appreciate the way she goes about her work, day in and day out, not just in the pool, but in the classroom as well."

That relentless work in the pool has paid massive dividends for the vastly improved swimmer.

Loring dropped nine seconds in the 200 freestyle and 16 seconds in the 200 IM during her successful high school career.

Despite these significant time drops, that didn’t mean Loring always felt comfortable keeping up with her peers.

Her uneasiness was certainly justified.

After all, how would someone feel if she had to train with a plethora of first-ballot Hall of Famers?

Pretty scary if you ask Loring.

The Explorers’ list of legends included Maddie Hannan, who is now swimming at the University of Cincinnati, and seniors Paige McCormick, a University of Louisville recruit and former state champion, and Giovanna Cappabianca, a University of Akron recruit.

Oh wait …

Mackenzie DeWitt is on the team too. By the way, this dynamic junior sprinter recently made a verbal commitment to swim at Ohio State.

Understandably, Loring may have felt a bit overmatched against these highly-acclaimed superstars. Her coach, on the other hand, thought otherwise.

And he decided to cast his tentative pupil into the fire to prove his point.

"One of my best memories of Gabrielle is telling her that she was going to anchor the 400 free relay at state prelims during her sophomore year," Davis said. "Her best time before she dove in the water was 54 seconds. She might have been a little terrified, but the coaches all believed in her.

"She went out and split a 52 to help the girls reach the podium and then backed it up at finals with another 52. That moment really shaped my belief in Gabrielle as her district meet was not what she was hoping for, but to come back a week later and perform that way was awesome."

Loring could be even more of a cornerstone for her new team. Unlike her former squad, Ohio University hasn’t exactly been a swimming powerhouse in recent years. The Bobcats finished a modest seventh at the Mid-American Conference Championships in February.

Pardon Loring if these cold, hard facts are not terribly important to her. She just wants to get back into her favorite moist habitat as quickly as possible.

"I hope at Ohio University I become the best version of myself as a student, an athlete and an individual," Loring said.

That should be no problem if the state’s oldest university is anything like her soon-to-be alma mater.

When it comes to Hudson swimming over the years, its members become part of a special group that is affectionately known as the "boats."

And once you earn this prestigious label, you’re likely going to carry it with you as long as you live.

"Being a part of the Hudson High School swim team has been the highlight of my high school experience," Loring said. "I have made my best friends through swimming and I could not imagine a world where I couldn’t call my closest friends my teammates too.

"Being a part of such a unique group of people is really special. I miss the team, the training, the good times and the tough training sets. However, I feel like they are a part of my family.

"In fact, they are my second family and it will be weird to not see them everyday when swimming picks back up."

Loring won’t be leaving Hudson as the school’s all-time greatest swimmer. That distinguished label belongs to McCormick.

Regardless, this unheralded teenager is no dwarf seahorse. Thanks to her exceptional work ethic and persistence, Loring has become quite a big fish in a not-so-small pond.

"I’ve never considered myself an amazing swimmer, but I’ve continued to push myself and work hard to be successful," she said.

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @FrankAceto_Gannett.