Olivia Bray has been named to the 2018-19 USA Swimming National Junior Team in two events— the women’s 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter butterfly.
Bray is the defending Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 3 state champion in the 100 fly, an event she won last February as a sophomore at Lord Botetourt High School.
Now a junior, the Daleville resident has been making her mark as a member of the Virginia Gators, a Roanoke-based swim club coached by Doug and Kathy Fonder.
She is one of 67 swimmers named to the National Junior Team (35 women and 32 men) who come from 25 states.
“This group of National Junior Team honorees who qualified for the 2018-19 National Team is a testament to the incredible dedication and work being done at the club level around the United States,” USA Swimming National Junior Team Director Mitch Dalton said in an announcement about the team. “With two years to go until the 2020 Olympic Games, USA Swimming and its supporters can be very excited about the depth and talent within the junior ranks.”
National Junior Team members must be age 18 or under on Sept. 1, 2018.
According to USA Swimming, there are over 325,000 year-round swimmers that are 18 years old and under.
The athletes are guaranteed a spot on the national team by being the top two fastest athletes in each Olympic event. Additionally, all 18 and under female athletes who have a world ranking within the Top 75 in an individual Olympic event make the team. Athletes who make the team will remain a National Junior Team member through August 31, 2019 and get to represent the USA during some international swim meets during the course of the year.
As a 16-year-old, Bray is the top-ranked 18 and under female swimmer on the USA Team in the 100 butterfly with a best time of 58.89 seconds. She is the third ranked junior in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:10.44.
Her qualifying time in the 100 butterfly came at the Phillips 66 National Championship in July in Irvine, Calif. and her 200 time was during the ISCA Summer Championship a week later in St. Petersburg, Fla. swimming for the Virginia Gators.
She is 49th in the world rankings in both the 100 and 200 butterfly.
She said in an email that she started summer league swimming when she was 7 years old on the Ashley Plantation Stingrays team. “I joined Gators when I was 8 years old because I instantly fell in love with the sport and wanted to see what it was like on a year-round team,” She’s grown up with those Gator teammates.
“Swimming is a tough sport and you need support to be happy and successful,” she continued. “Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to have supportive teammates and coaches through the years and couldn’t be where I am today without them pushing me and believing in me.”
Bray swam for the Lord Botetourt swim team her freshman and sophomore years. “I’ve gotten to know more people at the school through this and it’s a great environment to be in,” she said.
She trains every summer with Misty Hyman, 200-meter butterfly gold medalist in Sydney 2000 Olympics.
“When I was just starting to swim, I met Misty Hyman at a clinic in Maryland and instantly wanted to be like her,” Bray said. “She’s inspired me throughout the years to love the sport, especially butterfly. Butterfly wasn’t always my best stroke because it didn’t come natural to me at first. But I worked with Misty and she’s helped me develop a good butterfly stroke.”
Her weekly training schedule is pretty intense. She has four double practices a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Practices range from 2-3 hours and each is usually 6,500-8,500 yards in the pool, while her first Saturday practice is usually 10,000 yards.
“My goal as a competitive swimmer is to make the US National Team this summer,” she continued. “My ultimate goal is to make the US Olympic Team.”
While swimming doesn’t leave much time for a lot of other pursuits, she said she does enjoy photography and playing with her three dogs.
She is the daughter of Kimberly Bray and James Bray.