KALISPELL — Kalispell Flathead's Lily Milner is going to swim division one at University Of Utah, but Milner’s journey to get here started long ago.
“Well I started swimming when I was about eight years old and I started competitively swimming when I was about 10. I fell in love with it because it's an individual sport so everything kind of relies on you,” said Milner.
Milner fell in love with swimming when she was eight. Physically, it changed her body, making her stronger and turning her into one of the best swimmers in the Flathead Valley. But it was the mental strength she found that changed her life.
“Swimming is a pretty mentally tough sport because it's pretty boring, you're just swimming back and forth staring at a black line or staring up a ceiling, so it's really taught me how to stay dedicated and stay focused and work really hard, even when you know your mind does not want you to," Milner said.
“She's got some big goals and she's got a lot of natural talent that helps too, to kind of wrap it all up together that's a pretty dangerous combination to have, ” said Milner's club coach for Glacier Aquatic, Major Robinson.
However Milner didn't always finish first, this confidence is something that took her some time to find.
“I just graduated middle school. I was a little shrimp and I was kind of seated at the bottom of the meet, you know, last and everything and then in the last event on the last day, in the 50 free I dropped a bunch of time, and I made a new cut, and I made finals as a tiny little rising freshman," Milner said. "I got to stand on the blocks next to all these really successful and really, muscular and tall girls and that's when I kind of knew that, this is something I can do at a higher level.”
Her next chapter will be beginning in Utah and one of the things she's most looking forward to is hoping she can inspire countless Montana girls, writing their own stories.
"I was not good I was not winning state titles at ten years old, so just keep with it and as your body grows and matures, you start to gain that confidence and even as you know the sports of Flathead or the sports in Kalispell especially women's sports get more coverage and more people rally behind them and fundraisers, I think that aspect is going to make swimming a lot more fun," said Milner.
Milner becomes Glacier Aquatic Club's seventh swimmer to swim in college, and six of them have been women.