Talented sophomore Broaders next up to lead Illineks in the pool

Talented sophomore Broaders next up to lead Illineks in the pool

URBANA — Reed Broaders maintained modest expectations entering her 2017 season with Uni High girls' swimming.

On the surface, it was a reasonable approach. After all, Broaders was just a freshman with coach Dave Young's program last year.

"All I really wanted to do was just make my team proud," Broaders said. "I thought I was just going to go to sectionals and just do my best."

No one but Broaders can say with absolute certainty whether she was at her best in ninth grade. But she was pretty dang good.

A Unit 4 Pool record in the 50-yard freestyle. Sectional championships and state qualifications in that event, plus the 100 butterfly, the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay. She capped it off with top-12 state showings in both of her individual races.

Broaders is the standard-bearer for local girls' pool exploits.

"She's a big-time swimmer, in my opinion," Young said. "She embraces the big races, which is a good quality to have. I think she's really looking forward to this year, seeing what she can do now."

That becomes even more intriguing for the Illineks given the graduation of Ema Rajic, a four-time state champion who took her talents to the University of California at Berkeley.

"I couldn't have asked for a better person to help me in my first year," Broaders said of Rajic. "She was the best leader."

Now it's Broaders' turn to pick up that torch for Uni High.

Young believed early on his pupil with "a contagious personality" could be a successful high school swimmer, as Broaders already has displayed.

Interestingly enough, though, Young first noticed Broaders' athleticism in another sporting venture other than swimming.

"I first heard of Reed from my daughter (Meredith Young), who coaches volleyball at Uni. She also coaches at (Next Generation)," Dave Young said. "She told me about this good volleyball player that's going to come to Uni and swim and do all sorts of neat things.

"So I went to a volleyball game and ... was like, 'Wow, this is a talented young lady.'"

Broaders describes volleyball as "a sport for fun," a extra activity for her downtime. Swimming was a venture she couldn't possibly put to the side.

Originally a native of Danville, Broaders learned to swim at age 3, joined a country club team at 7 and started competitive action at 9.

"When I did country club the first time, I got this huge adrenaline rush and I just loved it," Broaders said. "I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. I have all this energy.' I've loved it ever since."

Her passion shows both in and out of the pool. Broaders' vibrant attitude and tireless work ethic, Young believes, will provide the Illineks with a little extra kick as long as she's with the club.

And then there's the hard results, and Broaders' reaction to her abrupt rise in the prep ranks.

"I cried. I was so happy. I did not think I was going to do that well at all," Broaders said of her 2017 sectional haul. "Then going to state, it was just, 'Oh, my gosh, I actually made it here. I'm at a state meet.'"

More of the same appears to be on the horizon for Broaders, who admitted she's "more responsible" as a sophomore. She's upped the intensity of her workouts and is paying even closer attention to the little things that go into creating a perfect race.

At the same time, Broaders also won't forget a lasting lesson Rajic delivered when the two were teammates.

"She also taught me just to be yourself at swim practice, because they're going to love you no matter what," Broaders said. "I kind of came in really shy, and she was like, 'This isn't you. You're a lot more energetic and loud.'

"She really helped me come out of my shell."

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