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Fossil Ridge swimmer Lucy Bell has sights set on Olympic trials
In just two years of high school competition, Fossil Ridge junior Lucy Bell has established herself as arguably the best swimmer in Colorado. (Credit: Michael Bell)

Fossil Ridge swimmer Lucy Bell has sights set on Olympic trials

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (BVM) — Lucy Bell will have a chance to add to her growing collection of gold medals when the CHSAA girls swimming state championships are held next month. But an even greater opportunity awaits the Fossil Ridge junior this summer.

Bell, a member of USA Swimming’s junior national team, will compete with the best the country has to offer at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, which will take place June 13-20 in Omaha, Neb. 

“I’m super excited,” said Bell, who’s qualified in the 100 and 200-meter butterfly and the 400 individual medley. “I swam against a bunch of them at nationals before as well and it’s such a good motivator because everyone is right with you, especially in the shorter events, and so it just motivates you so much more and it really pushes you outside of your comfort zone a ton.”

In just two years of high school, Bell has established herself as arguably the best swimmer in Colorado. SwimCloud ranks her No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in among all Class of 2022 recruits, and a college career with one of the top Division I programs in the country is inevitable. With the Sabercats, she’s already claimed three individual Class 5A state titles — twice in the 200 IM and once in the 100 freestyle — and has also been a part of gold medal-winning relay teams in the 400 freestyle (twice) and 200 medley.

Bell doesn’t exactly have a lot to prove at the high school level, but she still wants to accomplish more.

“In high school it’s still a really hard challenge,” Bell said. “I’m still trying to be the top in the state in my events in 5A and break some of the records that have been set in the past.”

Bell is qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 and 200-meter butterfly and the 400 individual medley (Credit: Laura Pales)

Bell also has high hopes for her team, which includes three seniors who are already committed to Division I programs — Mahala Erlandson (Purdue), Rylee O’Neill (Mizzou) and Emily Rinker (Miami Ohio) — and will help give Fossil Ridge a good shot at capturing its first team state title since 2018 when the Sabercats captured their fourth championship in seven years.

“It’s always a goal of ours to win state,” Bell said. “No matter what, we’re always trying for that.”

Regardless of what Bell is able to accomplish individually or with her team in March, the state meet will still in some ways serve as more of a warm-up for bigger events with an even higher level of competition. Bell’s club team, Fort Collins Area Swim Team (FAST), is scheduled to travel to Florida for a competition in April, two months before she jumps back into the pool to compete with the nation’s best at the Olympic trials.

Qualifying for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics might be a long shot for Bell. But her high school and club coach, Jimmy Rodriguez, believes it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that she could earn a spot on a future U.S. Olympic team as she continues to grow as a swimmer. 

“With the next Olympic trials being in three years, she’ll be a sophomore in college and at that point I think things get a lot more realistic,” said Rodriguez, the head coach for Fossil Ridge and a senior coach for FAST. “Even from there you flash forward four more years, that’s another shot there. Maybe not this Olympics, but the next two I think so long as she keeps up with her training and she’s still enjoying what she’s doing, she’s got a real shot.”

Reaching the Olympics would naturally be a dream come true for Bell, but the opportunity itself is enough for now. 

“This year I think I’m mostly going for the experience because I’m still pretty young and it’s the biggest meet that I’ve ever been to for sure,” Bell said. “I just kind of want to see how I do and just take it all in.”