A memorable long-course season was capped off in style July 26 for swimmer Montana Dobry.
The 13-year-old, who attends Beiseker Community School, competed at her first Canada Junior Swimming Championships, July 24 to 29 at Repsol Sport Centre in Calgary.
Dobry, a member of the Airdrie-based Nose Creek Swim Association (NCSA), swam to a 20th-place finish in the 100-metre (m) breaststroke. Touching the wall in 1:20.37, Dobry’s performance moved her from 28th to 20th place in the national rankings for her age group.
“I did really good – I was expecting to not make a final or anything, but I wanted to come up a few places, which I did,” she said. “This is a big meet, and it’s my first one, so I wasn’t expecting to get a medal out of this.”
NCSA coach Alexx Diep said he’s been coaching Dobry for a little more than a year, since she and her family relocated from Okotoks to a property between Airdrie and Beiseker. He said her progression has been steady, despite being a “late bloomer” in terms of her physical growth.
“This year was a little bit of a tougher year for her, in the sense that she was a little overwhelmed or intimidated,” he said. “She turned 13, and [that’s when] you age up and are brand new to an age category.
“Recognizing this is a very competitive age category, I think she was a little intimidated by that. It held her back a little bit, in terms of her performances, but hopefully, this year was a building year, and next year she’ll be stronger for it.”
Dobry, who has been swimming for six years, said her preferred stroke is the breaststroke, though she enjoys other events, as well.
“I started swimming really early, and I just stuck with it,” she said. “I’m not really good at anything else. I like the challenging races – the 200-m fly, for example, I’m not very good at it, but I like it.”
Despite Dobry’s small stature, Diep said, she has some physical characteristics that make her a great breaststroker.
“She has good mobility in her joints and is also very flexible – breaststroke is an event where you need a lot of that,” he said. “Everything about breaststroke creates resistance and is about slowing you down. Being more flexible, she’s able to perform the technique in a way that benefits her gliding.”
He added the breaststroke will likely remain Dobry’s strongest event for now, but she’s recently shown improvements in every stroke – she set personal bests in her 100-m backstroke, freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke events at the 2019 Swim Alberta Summer Championships in Edmonton July 5 to 7.
“This is a name you’ll want to keep on your radar, because she’s a late bloomer,” Diep said. “Once she’s fully mature, we’re going to see some great things from her.”
The junior national meet was Dobry’s final competition of the 2019 season. After months of swimming virtually every day, she’ll enjoy a break before focusing on the short-course season, which kicks off in the fall.
While she’s happy to get a short reprieve from daily swim practices and weekly competition, she said, she’ll likely get restless sooner rather than later.
“I’m going to get bored after a few days, because [swimming] is a routine and you get used to it after a while,” she said. “But I’ll definitely enjoy a break.”