Petaluma High’s Scott makes USA Swimming team for world junior championships

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Petaluma junior Riley Scott earned a spot on the U.S. team at the world junior swimming championships in Dubai.

Petaluma junior Riley Scott earned a spot on the U.S. team at the world junior swimming championships in Dubai. (Courtesy of the Scott family)

A cool competitor, Petaluma swimmer Riley Scott was elated Wednesday when named to the USA Swimming team for the world junior championships.

The selection was quite a 16th-birthday present for the All-Empire swimmer whose longest season yet keeps getting better.

“It feels really good,” Scott said. “I was really excited to see how well I could do. It’s really cool to do this well.”

Breakthrough swims at the recent U.S. Open Championships put Scott at the top of the nation’s junior women in the 200 breaststroke.

The leap up the ladder — Scott aimed for the junior top six going into summer meets — earned Scott her first spot on a USA Swimming team. The FINA World Junior Championships are Aug. 26-31, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

USA Swimming on Wednesday announced its rosters for men and women — 36 of the nation’s top swimmers ages 14 to 18.

Scott joins past Empire greats Amanda Sims, Maya DiRado and Molly Hannis in representing the United States as juniors at international meets.

“This has been the longest season for me. I’m definitely trying to keep it going forward,” Scott said.

A strong high school season set up Scott for success this summer. She capped another All-Empire prep campaign with a pair of third place finishes at the North Coast Section championships.

Then came the long-course season. High school meets are in 25-yard pools. The major national and international competitions are in 50-meter pools.

The big summer meet was the National Championships and World Championship Trials. While she had a nationals qualifying time, Scott instead aimed for the U.S. Open later in summer, allowing more training in longer pools.

In addition to adding distance to her training, Scott dialed in technique for pushing and kicking off turns. Steadying her tempo for the longer pool also helped Scott gain speed.

“I’ve just been training really hard this year,” Scott said. “Since I dropped so much in the short-course season, I figured I could in the long-course season.”

And she swam personal bests.

At the U.S. Open, in Irvine two weeks back, Scott shaved seconds off her top times in both the preliminaries and finals for the 200-meter and 100-meter breaststrokes. Scott also lowered personal bests in the 200 and 400 intermediate medleys, though she was qualified only to swim trials in those events.

“Usually I do well in one or two events. That meet was really exciting,” she said.

Starting strong, Scott cut nearly three seconds from her personal best in the 200 breaststroke to finish 13th in the preliminaries. She improved on that by more than a second in the B finals for 11th overall.

Scott’s time of 2:31.11 in the 200 breast is best for the nation’s junior women this year. Her goal is to drop under 2:30 in the event.

“There’s a lot of pressure being number one, but I like it,” Scott said.

After a few days of rest Scott was back training in the water and on the weights for worlds. Working with longtime coach Warren Lager of the Marin Pirates team, Scott again seeks the type of fitness that produced the meet of her life.

“This opportunity is so cool. I’m just so excited to swim on this team,” Scott said. “I’m not nervous. I just want to do really well.”

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