The first Carlisle Lady Bison swimmer will also be the first to swim in college.

CHS senior Makenzie Bennett signed a national letter of intent to swim for Milligan College in Tennessee. The Buffaloes are an NAIA school.

Bennett has been swimming competitively for 10 years with the Lonoke SharkRockets swim team.

"I always loved the water from the first time I learned how to swim," she said. "I had some friends who were on the team and I basically begged my mom to join until she caved."

Bennett said her inspiration for wanting to do more with swimming came with watching Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps win eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"I decided I wanted to go further," she said. "It became a goal and a dream to work harder and more seriously so that maybe I could swim in college or beyond."

Well, that dream took a step closer when she signed with Milligan College during a ceremony last week in Bison Arena.

"It’s really exciting," Bennett said. "I feel like maybe others will have the opportunity to do this as well. I also hope it could draw more attention to a highly-underrated sport. It was a lot of hard work but with the help of Robby from NSR, I’m breaking grew ground and going something no one else has had the chance to do."

Bennett is referring to Robby Wilson of the National Scouting Report. He is the head of the Arkansas division.

Wilson said that Bennett and her mother Tara had completed a "scout me" form from his company’s website.

"After scheduling a time to scout Makenzie’s abilities in person, we scheduled an in-home interview," Wilson said.

Wilson said after Bennett qualified as an NSR prospect "we began the promotion of Makenzie to all 537 college women’s swim programs in the nation."

"Makenzie then completed her preference target list, which narrowed down which of those schools that had responded and Makenzie wanted to pursue," he said.

During this time, Wilson said Bennett’s swimming times were getting better.

"After Makenzie visited Milligan College, there was no doubt that is where she wanted to be," he said.

Bennett said she visited the campus in September.

"It was an amazing atmosphere in which I immediately felt comfortable," she said. "Even before I committed, the team treated me like I had been there for years. Milligan also puts an emphasis on character and education, which are important values to me, besides swimming."

Bennett, the daughter of Tara and David Bennett, will major in communications with an emphasis in journalism.