Illineks sophomore Broaders lives — and swims — for the thrills

Illineks sophomore Broaders lives — and swims — for the thrills

URBANA — Motivation comes in all shapes and sizes.

Reed Broaders discovered one of the most tangible forms in recent history, when she suited up for the girls' state swimming and diving meet last month.

The Uni High sophomore traveled to Evanston after advancing individually in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke, as well as with the Illineks' 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

When preliminaries rolled around on Friday, Nov. 16, there was a lot on Broaders' plate.

Not on her plate: any of the sweet treats she loves to eat.

After an underwhelming first day at state left her competing in her two solo event consolation finals, a frustrated Broaders turned her attention to food.

"Sugar is what took my mind off (the pressure)," Broaders said. "The next day, I came in and I was like, 'You know what? Whatever happens, happens.'

"I just know that I'm going to give my best effort, and I can eat sugar afterward. I can go even faster just to eat sugar."

The unique strategy paid off, as Broaders outswam five foes in the 100 butterfly's secondary heat to snag seventh place overall and landed 11th in the 100 backstroke.

Those performances, as well as her complete body of work for coach Dave Young's Uni High squad, made her The News-Gazette's All-Area girls' swimming and diving Athlete of the Year.

She kept the title in the Illineks' corner for a fifth consecutive season, following the example of 2018 graduate Ema Rajic in the four previous campaigns.

"I was really surprised because I honestly didn't know this was a thing," Broaders said before an offseason practice at Unit 4 Pool. "Especially being a sophomore, that was amazing for me."

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There are no theme parks in east central Illinois. That hasn't stopped Broaders from becoming a thrill seeker.

Her dad, Roy, and mom, Karen, frequently attend work conventions in Florida. That has led to at least 10 trips for Reed and older brother Jemarie to Walt Disney World.

And she isn't just there to pose for photos with favorite character Minnie Mouse, or to partake in some of the resort's Moroccan food.

"I think I was 7 my first time going to Disney World ... and my brother doesn't ride roller coasters," Reed said. "So I was like, 'I'm going to be a bigger person than he is, and I'm going to ride all these roller coasters.' And then I just did, and I loved it."

Broaders enjoys the feeling of "going essentially ... against gravity." It's not a concept that plays itself out in the swimming pool, but Broaders still finds a connection between the two elements — especially considering she began to swim shortly after riding her first coaster.

"If I wouldn't have gone on roller coasters before and gotten that adrenaline, I don't think I would've known how to deal with all the adrenaline (in swimming)," Broaders said. "It can be kind of overwhelming."

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Broaders gains a different sort of rush when she's not in the water, the result of her craving sugary goods.

After putting forth a time of 57.23 seconds in the state 100 backstroke consolation final on Nov. 17 — on the heels of her 54.84 consolation butterfly clocking — Broaders rushed to the athlete sitting area.

"I ate a Sour Patch (Kids candy) or something," Broaders said. "My other teammates who went to state (and) weren't swimming ... they were just eating sugar in front of me. And I was like, 'How rude.'"

Broaders estimates she didn't eat ice cream for about three months leading up to state, something she sounded genuinely upset about.

That said, Broaders is also talented and hard-working enough with her swimming that she's willing to put aside sugar in order to achieve her pool goals.

"You just have to know that it's going to benefit you in the long run," she said. "Your taste buds don't really matter in this case. All your hard work, and you're just going to end it for sugar or something that you're not supposed to eat, (it) just seems like kind of a waste."

And Broaders has to be a good role model for her Uni High pals. Multi-time state champion Rajic is off at the University of California-Berkeley, and even though Broaders is just in 10th grade, her results indicate she's the girl to watch both on her team and in the area.

She quickly picked up a new training partner, too, after Rajic's graduation. Freshman Sally Ma stormed onto the local prep scene — much like Broaders did last year. Ma was the only other Illinek still standing for the state meet's second day, jetting to 10th in the 50 freestyle.

"I don't know if I would've made a couple of those practices without her," Broaders said. "She's so optimistic. She's always like, 'You can do it. You've got it. You're going to make this goal.'"

So far as a high-schooler, Broaders has both met and exceeded her expectations. That allows her to comfortably indulge on her favorite foods after a hard day's work.

Is there anything she wouldn't consume as part of a post-race celebration?

"I don't like chocolate," Broaders said. "I haven't liked chocolate since I was little. It just tastes not really good."

News-Gazette All-Area Girls' Swimming and Diving Athletes of the Year


2018 Reed Broaders Uni High

2017 Ema Rajic Uni High

2016 Ema Rajic Uni High

2015 Ema Rajic Uni High

2014 Ema Rajic Uni High

2013 Gabi Rajic Urbana

2012 Gabi Rajic Urbana

2011 Audrey Rodawig Centennial

2010 Emma Newman Champaign Central

2009 Lauren Drennan Danville

2008 Lisa Boyce Uni High

2007 Norah Cetin Centennial

2006 Athena Liao Urbana

2005 Payton Johnson Centennial

2004 Courtney Cozad Centennial