INDEPENDENCE — You could say that swimming is in Lynze Bradley’s blood.
The senior from Central High School has been a part of one swim team or another for 10 years, including several summers spent on a team at the YMCA, as well as four years with the Panthers swim team.
“I’ve been doing it for so long that if I don’t swim, it’s weird,” Bradley said.
She capped her final season with the Panthers by setting personal records in her events at the Mid-Willamette Conference District Championships in Feb. 14-15.
“I PR’d in the 100-yard freestyle by two seconds, and then I PR’d in the 50-free by a second, so I’m really satisfied by how it went,” she said.
Last year, Bradley joined teammates Olivia Cooper, Madelyn Altenburg and Grace Holstad at the state competition, where the quartet competed in the 200-yard medley relay and set a school record. She missed her shot at state this year.
“I was kind of bummed I didn’t go this year, because it was a fun experience last year, and it was a good bonding experience,” Bradley said. “But, the season was a lot harder ... so I’m still proud of how well we did.”
The competition was steeper this year, which is what made the season more challenging.
“The other people swam faster,” Bradley said. “With a time of 1:02, I placed 10th in the 100-free; but last year I got a 1:04 and placed seventh. So, it was just more competitive.”
Another challenge Bradley faced was an internal one.
“I think the biggest challenge was just mentally, not giving up,” she said. “There were times where I was tired and disappointed by how I was doing — I didn’t think I was doing as well as I could, but (head coach) Jesse Genualdi, he really helped me with not giving up, and pushing forward.”
Her joy for the sport and her work ethic is why Genualdi chose Bradley as the I-O’s swimming athlete of the year — among other reasons.
“Lynze … is constantly trying to learn new ways to improve in her sport, is committed to excellence in school and is a quiet leader,” Genualdi said. “She has had much success in the pool, from being a state participant and a school record holder, to being within the top five best swimmers of all time (at CHS) in the 50- and 100-freestyle individual event. She has been a true leader in action and an inspiration to those she comes in contact with. She is leaving behind a legacy of excellence academically and athletically that I think the other girls on the team will be challenged to continue.”
Swimming with the Panthers might be over for Bradley, but she isn’t planning on letting her final high school season be the end of her swimming career.
“I’m planning on going to the University of Oregon, and they don’t have a swim team there, but they have a club swim team, so I want to join that,” Bradley said. “And right now, I want to be swimming at Western Oregon University in the recreation pool to stay in shape.”