Local athlete makes big splash in family tradition

by Aimee Yllanes

reprinted from The Sopris Sun  – January 4, 2023

Amélie Ogilby swims for the local club swim team, Team Sopris, or the Sopris Barracudas as their fans know them. Recently, the 17-year-old athlete made her way to the Junior Nationals in Austin, Texas — a historic accomplishment for the Barracudas.

From an early age, Ogiliby, now a junior at Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS), realized she loved being in the water. Her parents — knowing the same — signed her up for Team Sopris at the age of 6. “I’ve been on the same team ever since,” Ogilby told The Sopris Sun.

Ogilby’s great-grandfather, Trahern Ogilby, was a swimmer and her grandpa, Chuck — who competed in college — loves jumping in the pool to swim laps with his granddaughter.

“What I didn’t really realize was how much of a history my family has in the sport,” Ogilby continued. “Being able to appreciate that in the last couple of years has been really cool.”

In fact, her great-grandpa, Trahern, broke the national high school record in the 200-meter freestyle. For Ogilby’s recent birthday, Chuck gifted her her great-grandfather’s trophy from that record-breaking meet. “It’s really special to have that with me,” she shared.

“We have three generations of swimmers now; because my dad will come swim with us and my grandpa. It’s a family affair,” she laughed.

Regarding the Barracudas, Ogilby said she wouldn’t rather swim with any other team. “They’re my people, my family,” she stated. “It’s so cool to be a part of this team … and to be able to represent at these bigger meets.”

Ogilby credits much of the team’s success to its head coach, Steve Vanderhoof, who recently traveled with the young athlete to the Junior Nationals in Texas. “He’s been there for every single athlete in the way that he’s been there for me,” she said of her coach. Fittingly, back in 1970, Vanderhoof was part of the first-ever Team Sopris swim team at the age of 12.

Last summer at a meet in California, Ogilby achieved a “cut” time and earned a spot at the Junior Nationals — a goal she’s had but previously assumed she’d have to wait another year before achieving.

The Junior Nationals meet was the biggest Ogilby has yet to attend, where she swam with some of the country’s top contestants. “Watching them was so humbling and such an amazing experience … to witness national records dropping, junior world records dropping,” she exhaled. “It was crazy.” Ogilby placed 14th in the mile race with a time of 16:49.

While the opportunity was one for the books, Ogilby missed her teammates and is looking forward to swimming alongside her fellow Barracudas at upcoming meets. “It’s so fun to see everyone come together, be a team and support each other,” she reflected.

During Junior Nationals, she particularly missed her training partner, Bennet Jones, a senior at CRMS and Ogilby’s best friend who she says is just as “insane” (in a good way) as she is. Jones, also a Barracuda, is up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to train with Ogilby. “She’s my training partner, best friend, partner in crime, whatever you want to call it,” Ogilby summarized.

Clearly, Ogilby is not the type of athlete to hoard her success; says she wouldn’t be where she is without the camaraderie between her and Jones, plus the support of her parents and Coach Vanderhoof. “They are the main reason I could get to this meet,” she declared.

“The thing about that meet [Junior Nationals] was that she was swimming against Olympic swimmers — people who broke American records — and we were right there with these people,” said Vanderhoof. Next, according to her coach, Ogilby needs to qualify for summer Junior Nationals, then Olympic trials. “That’s her goal: to go to the Olympic trials, and we’re not very far away,” he added.

According to Coach Vanderhoof, Ogilby and Jones push each other and motivate the younger swimmers. “One of the things that’s so great about these two girls is that they’re developing the whole team just by being in the pool,” he said. Jones is signed on to swim at Pomona-Pitzer beginning in the fall.

Her mile-time at Junior Nationals qualified her for the TYR Pro Series where she’ll have the opportunity to compete against professional swimmers like Katie Ledecky, her dad proudly pointed out to The Sopris Sun. He added that Ogilby is but a couple of seconds from hitting the time-standard for the 400-meter individual medley to qualify for the US Open.

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Sports, Student

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