Medal winning medleys

Team Arkansas receives honors at Junior Olympics


Photo by Clint Smith

Senior Allyson Smith dives into the water during the 2021 Junior Olympics. Houston, Texas hosted the Junior Olympics July 28 through August 6.

Story by Stephanie Jumper, Editor-In-Chief

Blood. Sweat. Tears. And a whole lot of water. 

Following several sunrise practices and hours of exhaustion, team Arkansas won first place in swimming for both the boys’ division and overall at the 2021 Junior Olympics. The competition gathered swimmers from across the nation in Cypress, Texas, from July 31 to Aug. 1.

“We were ecstatic,” said senior Dane Bullock, who placed eighth in the 200 meter medley relay. “We went into it with realistic hopes [that] we definitely could place very high just because of the amount of training that we did all through the summer.”

Merely qualifying to compete in the Junior Olympics is an accomplishment in itself. This event gathers America’s “best of the best” in a wide range of sports for children and adolescents.

“I would absolutely say it’s pretty hard to get into the Junior Olympics,” Bullock said. “It’s a very competitive meet, and it’s a national championship, so it’s the best swimmers from around the [country].”

Bullock was in good company on the boys’ swim team, with over 10 from Texas High competing this year. Senior Ally Smith and sophomore Presley Bennett were the only people from Texas High in the girls’ division.

“I wanted to compete because we hardly ever have girls going,” Smith said. “I thought by going I’d encourage the underclassmen [to] work hard so they can compete next year.”

Hard work is not an unknown concept to these competitors. Unlike many student athletes, their practices don’t stop when the school year does. They typically train during the summer on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. as well as 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

“You’re full of energy in the morning,” Bullock said. “The afternoon is harder because most of us are working, but we gotta train if we wanna make it.” 

Junior Olympics also marks the end of an era for those moving on to new stages of life. This was 2021 alum Logan Diggs’ last competition with his team before moving to college.

“It was pretty surreal swimming with the guys one last time,” Diggs said. “It really opened my eyes to how far we’ve come together and how bright our futures are. It was bittersweet knowing this was the last time, but I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or a better group of guys to swim with.”

Despite the strenuous activity required to achieve this win, these swimmers all managed to end the summer with a team win behind them as well as several individual awards.

“I was definitely very happy,” Bullock said. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised that we won. I would say I was proud of the work we put in as a team.”