McColley, Varda, and Milner Race Fast at Winter Junior Nationals

This past weekend at the Junior National West Meet, the Bozeman Barracudas' two 15 year-old qualifiers, Rylee McColley, and Danika Varda remained calm, cool, and collected as they battled in the pool along with Tokyo Olympians, Bella Sims and Katie Grimes, and 805 other swimmers from over 200 teams.

Rylee, still recovering from a shoulder injury, drove her 100 breaststroke forward aggressively, and built her tempo beautifully for a strong 1:04.7 effort. Dani's kick-driven effort produced personal bests in the 100 Breast: a 1:02.40 prelim swim and returned for a 1:02.77 in the C-finals, and a strong and smart swim that placed her second alternate in the 200 Breast in 2:16.61.  Both girls handled the pressure with maturity and confidence and I’m very excited to see them hungry for more.

Danika broke the Montana Swimming state records for the 15-16 girls in both the 100 yard breaststroke and the 200 yard breaststroke with these swims.

They were joined on deck by Lily Milner from Kalispell Aquatic Team who is attending the University of Utah next year. Coach Major Robinson was unable to watch her race in person, but they had clearly prepared well and she raced fearlessly and aggressively. Lily swam a 23.51 50 Free, a 55.78 100 Backstroke, and 2:00.73 200 Backstroke carrying a high tempo, and intense kick from beginning to end.

It was an incredible learning opportunity for us as well. We watched National Records fall. We picked apart technique and kept notes on the drills the other competitors were using. We clocked pacing, tempos, underwater kicks, starts, turns, and finishes. Of course we’re bringing this information back to Bozeman and will use it to help our swimmers improve.

As always, many colleges have representatives at this meet, and several times we saw kids go from unnoticed to hot recruits in one race.

Being around this many top competitors, you can’t help noticing there’s something different about their focus. There are many kids who want to win at Junior Nationals. It's still the premier 18 & under meet in the US. The obvious difference between wanting and being motivated is what athletes are willing to do to get there.

Are they willing to jump in and push themselves in a difficult practice when they're just not feeling like it? Willing to do the weight and strength training required to compete with fast, explosively athletic swimmers from around the country? Willing to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and manage their time so that they can fit in the work required? Willing to take care of school work at the highest level? To not compromise on themselves and their own high standards? Willing to give their best on the day they feel the worst?

Many want to be the best. - Few are motivated to do what it takes to be the best.  We’re excited to have our own swimmers bringing back that experience to the rest of our team and to Montana Swimming.

Coach Hans

Bozeman Barracudas