A couple of weeks ago Columbia Falls senior swimmer Colton Babcock got into the pool in Great Falls and broke the state record in the 100 yard freestyle. In Montana state swimming, the meet is scored by team, but all classes compete against each other individually in the pool, so Babcock’s mark wasn’t just the best in class A, it was the absolute best in the state.
But he had another race to swim in 15 minutes. His muscles were shaking. His teammates and coaches poured cold water over him, gave him oranges to eat, which helps the shakes.
Then he swam the 500 yard freestyle, a grueling race that takes every ounce of strength.
He came in second, by a mere one-quarter of one second.
“I was very proud of that race,” Babcock said. His mark set a new school record.
But he wasn’t done. About 20 minutes later he swam the 200 free relay with his teammates and about a half hour after that, the 400 relay, helping lead the team to a second-place finish among class A schools.
Babcock is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds with a wide smile. The records don’t come easy. He swims 25,000 to 35,000 yards a week. His long arm span makes him a natural swimmer. He’s been competing since he was a young boy.
Now it’s on to California Baptist University, on both academic and athletic scholarships.
The school recruited him to swim the 200 and 500 free; he also plans on studying biomedical engineering.
He thought about being a physician’s assistant, but he claimed he wasn’t all that great with people.
That’s hard to believe. Babcock is one of the most affable athletes you’ll ever meet.
He said he’d love someday to make it to the Olympics, or at least the trials. Just getting there is no small task.
But he also knows that kids his age are already making Olympic teams.
Those young athletes are also heavily coached and practicing 12 times a week, he notes.
Babcock takes it in stride.
“It’s nice to be able to leave my mark on something not only at the school, but the state level,” he said.