Competing under sunny skies at the Arena Western Zone Senior Championships in Fresno, California, July 31 through Aug. 3, Cortez native Victoria Duran cemented her status as one of Southwest Colorado’s finest swimmers.
Duran’s presence at the championship became possible after the Durango Swim Club star posted qualifying swims earlier this season.
The 15-year-old swam nine practices per week throughout the summer and spent more than 20 hours in the water every week.
“I think this summer was really good,” Duran said. “I got in a lot of yardage every practice, which is great. I just tried to make the most out of every single practice. I was very mentally strong, and that helped carry me through the summer.”
Opening the Western Zone Championships, which is open to swimmers under the age of 20, Duran swam a career-best time of 9:34.72 and placed 25th overall in the 800-meter freestyle event. The Top 25 placing was somewhat of a surprise given that Duran rarely competes in the 800-meter freestyle as part of her regular meet schedule.
“There was no pressure, it was the first swim of the meet, and I just went out there to see what I could do,” Duran said.
“I got a little bit of lead toward the end, there was a girl next to me, and we pushed each other to the end, which was fun.”
Duran’s best finish at the meet came in the 1,500-meter freestyle when she raced to a career-best time of 18:23.77.
Duran’s time was good enough to place her 18th overall in the meet and sixth among 15-year-olds.
“I just really like the mile,” Duran said. “It’s my favorite event, and I really look forward to that swim. I did what I needed to do in that race.”
Other Top 100 finishes for Duran came in the 400-meter freestyle, where she placed 81st overall (4:44.12), and the 200-meter backstroke, where she placed 98th overall (2:33.22). The Durango Swim Club team member also placed 132nd in the 400-meter individual medley (5:32.31), 184th in the 200-meter freestyle (2:18.00), and 345th in the 100-meter freestyle (1:05.35).
Asked about her swimming plans for the remainder of the year, Duran said that she will take a two-week vacation before returning to the water before the end of August to resume training.
She added that once she returns to the water, she will continue honing her stroke and fine-tuning her training in hopes of qualifying for nationally recognized meets and perhaps, eventually, the biggest meet in the world.
“I’ll hit it hard this winter and try to hit it even harder next summer,” Duran said. “I want to eventually make it to Olympic trials. Making it to the Olympics is my ultimate goal.”