BOZEMAN – It’s not hard to tell that after one glance, Julia Huffmaster is special. But that wasn’t always the case.
“I wasn’t good at first. But after a few years of going to competitions, I was up there, I guess,” Julia Huffmaster smiled.
Swimming became a love for Huffmaster, 12, after getting hooked on the sport when watching it in on TV during the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. She jumped in the pool and was a natural, so much so that she’s already qualified for sectionals this week in Portland, Oregon.
“She’s very young, being 12 and going to sectionals. Normally I plan for an athlete to get there about 13 or when they just start training at 14,” said Josh Harris, Huffmaster’s swimming coach.
Huffmaster, who races with the Bozeman Barracudas swim club, will have some stiff competition. She is already one of the most talented swimmers in the field, but she will also be one of the youngest girls at the meet. But that doesn’t faze her.
“I’m excited just to be there and for the experience because there is going to be a lot of older kids and it would be fun to race them. There will just be a lot of competition,” Huffmaster said.
Even though she may be younger and a bit smaller, Huffmaster works hard every day to compete at a high level.
“She’s 12 years old and she’s just smart, so she’ll get after it when she knows to get after it. And she takes what I say in practice and takes it in to what she needs to do,” said Harris.
No matter how she finishes, this meet will open Huffmaster’s eyes to the level of competition in the west. Hopefully it helps her become a leader to her fellow peers in the pool.
“I’m mostly excited for her to experience it,” said Harris. “This is her first big meet — and she’s gone to Regionals and stuff but that’s still kind of local — and what she brings home to the team and how she can bring that fire to the rest of the team so we can bring more kids to sectionals in the future.”