Waiting for the pop that starts a race at the state swim meet meet can be nerve racking. But once she's in the water, battling against 10 other competitors, Fossil Ridge's Lucy Bell is comfortable.
Like a fish in water.
Sometimes in life, however, things aren't always that easy. Bell claimed last year's Class 5A swimmer of the year and has ambitions of repeating that feat and accomplishing a couple of other things as well. Swimming comes naturally to her, yet can be an insanely difficult skill to master.
Outside of the water, she's like any other high school junior. She's been driving for less than a year and in a way that some people avoid the water, she's been fortunate to avoid certain things about being behind wheel.
"I haven't had to parallel park yet," she said.
She has unfortunately been involved in an accident. No one was hurt and she plans on learning from the experience. It's likely that her first time swimming didn't go according to plan either, but she's developed her skill and become one of the premiere athletes in the sport while still balancing her life as a high school kid.
"She's into the TikTok dances like the other girls are," Fossil Ridge coach Jimmy Rodriguez. "She has the same concerns as every other teenager does. She just swims really fast on top of all that."
Swimming in a way helps her balance those concerns as a teenager because of the individualistic nature of the sport. When she's submerged in the water and simply trying to get from Point A to Point B as fast as she can, there is a sense of calm that overtakes her.
"Being in the water is easier to me than being on land and playing land sports," she said. "I don't know how to explain it. I feel more balanced and it's a lot more quiet and I can think to myself."
So far this season, Bell has worked methodically with her swims. She has yet to swim faster in the 100-yard freestyle or the 200 individual medley times that she had at last year's Class 5A state championship meet. She won both events but doesn't feel the need to sell out for top times quite yet.
She has plans for what she wants to accomplish this year and a big part of getting faster times in those events is making sure she's as strong mentally as well as physically.
"It has a lot to do with visualization," she said. "It's about goal setting and figuring out what you want to achieve. Visualization is a big part of (mental training)."
If her individual success can match what she did last year, she's hoping that the Sabercats can make a run at another 5A team title. After claiming three titles in a four-year span starting in 2015, the Sabercats have watched Fairview claim the last two state crowns.
With the state meet just a few weeks away, the work is being done for Fossil Ridge to be the ones to get hoist the state championship trophy, then jump into the pool in celebration.
"That's always a big goal of ours," Bell said. "We're working on having good relays and whenever I swim I always have that in the back on my mind to motivate me to swim my fastest."