Freshman swimmer qualifies for french national team


Last fall, freshman swimmer Melanie Julia qualified for the French National Swim team. While she is not technically on the team, Julia is on the list of high-level athletes who have a fast enough time to join the national team if they choose to do so.

Julia decided to try swimming in middle school when her Physical Education (P.E.) teacher suggested that she take up the sport. “In P.E. in sixth grade, my P.E. teacher was like ‘Oh, you should do swimming’ because we had swim unit,” Julia said. “So in June of that year I went to go see a bunch of teams and all of them put me on the wait list because I was super slow. Finally one team was like ‘okay you can be in our leisurely group’ and so that’s what I’m counting as my first year [of swimming].”

Julia was able to improve quickly, and in just two years she had already made her first national cut, meaning she was able to participate in nationals. “No one expected it,” Julia said. “I just made the cut by a few hundredths of a second.” Encouragement from Julia’s coach urged her to push her- self, eventually resulting in her qualification for the French national team. “My coach said, ‘if you could make it into the final, that would be nice,” Julia said. “I ended up making the final, and I made it to the podium. en in October I get an email saying that I’m part of [the list of qualified athletes].” However, the distance between France and the United States poses some issues when it comes to Julia’s ability to actually participate in competitions.

Although she qualified to swim in the French nationals, the meets are held in France so she would be required to travel to France in order to compete. According to Julia, it would be too difficult for her to make the international commute during the school year.

Besides distance issues, Julia sustained shoulder and knee injuries just two years a er taking up swimming. Unfortunately, her injuries are permanent, but that does not prevent her from striving to meet her goals. “Since I’m a breaststroker, these [injuries] can be bothersome,” Julia said. “But I just swim with it anyways and sometimes I have to do physical therapy. Overall, I try to ignore it because I have goals that are pretty important [that] I really want to achieve, and if I just keep thinking about those goals, I’ll push through at every practice.”

For the time being, Julia will continue to swim for the Gunn team. She recently swam for the Titans in the 2018 Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) championships, where she placed sixth in both the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard Individual Medley, according to College Swimming.

Despite her achievements, Julia is more interested in pursuing medicine rather than a professional swimming career. “I want to be a doctor,” Julia said. “I’m thinking of swimming [competitively] more than being paid for swimming because I just love to do it and I don’t need to be paid to keep going.”