Sep. 2—ROCHESTER — The girls swimming and diving season is just beginning, but John Marshall's Julia Ogren is already planning ahead.
Ogren is a standout sophomore for the Rockets who had two stellar finishes at the Class 2A state meet a year ago. She placed third in the 200-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100 backstroke.
Each swimmer is allowed to swim in two individual events and two relay events during regular-season and postseason meets. With one or possibly two state titles lurking in Ogren's near future, she has to decide which events give her the best chance to succeed when the Big Nine Conference, section and state meets rolls around.
"It just depends how the season goes and who is doing well in what (events)," Ogren said.
She plans on swimming in the 200 freestyle, but her second individual event will come down to the 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle or possibly the 100 butterfly.
Paul Bachman, who stepped down this season as the girls coach at JM, said Ogren might have a strong possibility to win a state championship in the 100 butterfly.
"She's one of the most versatile swimmers I've ever coached so it's hard to pinpoint which ones we're going to decide on," first-year JM coach Lauren Kalwasinski said.
Ogren put in the work in the offseason to prepare for another standout season. As a member of the Rochester Swim Club, she competed in several big events this summer, including swimming in the state meet and another regional event in Kansas City.
She also had a high-level training partner. Her older sister, Anna, is an elite swimmer and a junior on the University of Alabama's women's swimming and diving team.
"She came home for the summer and we raced a lot in practices, which is fun," Ogren said. "It's always a good time swimming with her because it brings out a competitive side in me."
While Julia's top events are freestyle and backstroke, Anna excels in the butterfly. But they still have plenty of friendly rivalry races.
"It's nice to have someone that I can look up to inside of the pool and outside of the pool," Ogren said, "because she's a good person, socially, academically and in her sport."
Like her older sister, Ogren wants to swim at a high level in college and she will very likely get that opportunity. College coaches cannot reach out to her until June 2024, when her sophomore school year is over.
Kalwasinski has previously coached Ogren in club swimming. The coach said the tall and lanky swimmer has a strong work ethic both in and out of the pool.
"She shows up to practice every day and works hard," Kalwasinski said. "She's a great kid and always has a positive mentality and positive vibes. She lifts the other girls up every day."
The 16-year-old Ogren does a lot of weight lifting and she feels stronger in the pool than last season. She has also grown since her freshman year and now stands 6-feet tall.
"I have a good mindset going into every practice and try to keep a good mindset the whole season," she said.
Ogren is just a sophomore, but with her success and skill level, she is already a team leader. Plus the Rockets are a young squad; Lizzy Gillman is their only senior.
"I try to motivate people during practice," Ogren said. "I try to keep people positive and accountable if they're being negative."
Ogren's goal is to do well in the postseason meets at the end of the season. But her drive also keeps her very focused on regular-season meets.
"I do think that I hold myself accountable for dual meets as well because it's still a meet and I still try to have a good swim no matter how big of a meet it is," she said.
Ogren rarely loses a race, but winning is not her main focus. Her goal is to enjoy the moment and challenge herself in the process.
She holds the JM school record in the 100 backstroke (56.41) and the 200 freestyle (1:51.71), but she isn't putting any pressure on herself to win a state title.
"I'm hoping to drop times in my events no matter what (events) I do at state," she said. "Hopefully I can get better placement in events and we'll see what happens."