Freshman attends swim camp at the Olympic Training Center


Used with permission from Ella Flowers

Ella Flowers poses with other swimmers at the Olympic Training Center.

Kate Willey, Staff Writer

At 5:20 a.m. the alarm sounds, summoning freshman Ella Flowers to drive to the Rice University pool in the dark. The morning air chills her, only slightly warmer than the frigid water that engulfs her body when she jumps in. After an hour of swimming, she heads to school. An hour after school, it’s back to Rice for another two-hour practice.

In October, Flowers was one of 48 girls, age 14 to 16, selected to attend a camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

To receive an invitation, swimmers had to record one of the three fastest times in each of the 14 Olympic events. USA Swimming also invited the girls with the top six Individual Medley Xtreme scores — the times in six olympic events added together. Flowers ranked fifth in the IMX.

During the four-day camp in late October, swimmers practiced twice a day and met with industry professionals. Flowers attending presentations on drug and supplement education, psychological training skills and race strategy.

The camp provided a welcome break from Flowers’ busy life, which consists of almost 20 hours of practice each week. According to Flowers, it has been sometimes challenging to balance intense swim practices with rigorous academics.

“She’s so busy but somehow makes it seem effortless,” said freshman Gaby Jammar. “I’ve never heard her complain, and her positive attitude is contagious.”

Flowers began in summer swim leagues when she was five years old. She enjoyed it so much that she began swimming year-round at age seven. When she was younger, Flowers saw older girls going to swim meets and aspired to be like them. At age 10, her goal was to make the Texas Age Group Swimming Championships, the state championships, and has worked her way up in the ranks, attending a regional Olympic training camp last year before the nationals in Colorado.

“I always set goals before every season,” Flowers said. “It’s important to make some goals that are small and easy to achieve but also some that are harder and make you work more. When it comes down to it, you’re the only one swimming your race, so whether or not you do well is all on you.”

Flowers will swim for the Mavericks, the defending swimming SPC champions, this winter. Coach Ron Raper looks forward to having such an experienced swimmer for the next four years.

“The best thing about Ella is watching her improve her times in each of the Upper School swimming events,” Raper said. “With Ella, all our girls relays are very solid for a triple win in the SPC Championship.”