by Julie Gray
Special to The R-C

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March 8, 2012
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Koontz earns top 10 national ranking in swimming

Thirteen-year-old Shelby Koontz is a young lady on the go.

A full time member of the Douglas Dolfins Swim Team for the past seven years, Shelby also finds time to practice dance and participate in recitals at the Academy of Dance Arts Studio and maintain a 4.0 GPA at Pau-wa-lu Middle School.

Like most teenagers, her favorite activity is "hanging out with her friends" many of whom are also on swim team.

Her teammates describe Shelby as "crazy, kooky, entertaining and funny." Despite her busy schedule and fun-loving personality, Shelby Koontz is making some serious and ambitious plans for her future.

According to the latest data compiled by USA Swimming, Shelby is currently ranked ninth in the nation for 13 year old girls in the 100-yard freestyle.

She is also ranked 14th nationally in the 200-yard individual medley and 15th in the 50 yard free.

Shelby's immediate plans are to compete in the Pacific Junior Olympics and Far Western Short-course Championships in March and obtain qualifying times for an international-level Grand Prix meet later this year. Her future goals include acquiring a swim scholarship and obtaining a college degree in Marine Biology. Her ultimate goal is to someday become a member of the United States Olympic Swim Team.

Koontz credits her coaches, Kathleen Matheson and Sarah Davenport, her parents, Robert and Linda Koontz, and especially her teammates who push her hard at every practice and encourage her to train as hard as she can.

"It has been a pleasure to coach Shelby," Douglas Dolfins head coach Kathleen Matheson. "Every year she seems to get a little more tenacious in her love for 'the race'. She practices hard with her team mates, but when it comes to doing sprints and racing, she is explosive.

"In the past five years that I have coached Shelby, I have seen her confidence bloom and she has been opening up into this phenomenal athlete gaining her own voice. Shelby is able to train at the 'senior level' of swim team which requires individuals to strive for fast times, learn to manage their time in preparation for a possible college swim team commitment and make other sacrifices.

"She has done a great job at such a young age balancing her family, school and sport obligations."

" Shelby's goal for getting her Junior National time cuts this year at the Santa Clara, California Grand Prix International Competition will be but one of her most difficult obstacles.

S"helby's peers are high school age swimmers. She trains with them daily, and they are part of her inspiration. Because she is still in middle school, Shelby will not be allowed to swim with her teammates during the indoor high school swim season.

"She will continue to be trained at the same level, but with no team mates that are the same speed to push, challenge or motivate her.

"This training period will be a true test of her intrinsic motivation. She is an amazing 13-year-old who has overcome in the past.

"With a positive mindset, she will continue to be able to shoot for the stars."

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The Record Courier Updated Mar 8, 2012 06:41PM Published Mar 8, 2012 06:36PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.