Junior swimming star at her best when pressure is greatest

Tampa's Gillan comes through in the biggest moments

college swimming star allows for a photo after practice.
UTampa swimming star Sierra Gillan is always pushing herself to be better than she was yesterday. (Photo by Sulien Khan) 

TAMPA, Fla. – Sierra Gillan’s ability to turn it on in the biggest meets can leave her coaches scratching their heads, but they aren’t going to complain.

The pre-med student can get a bit busy, and that means some practices aren’t the best.

When the horn goes, however, Gillan is always right there.

The Milford, Pa. native has consistently finished first in meets at the regional level in the Sunshine State Conference, and on the national level in Division II collegiate swimming.

A big part of Gillan’s consistency at meets can be traced to her teammates.

“I always want to perform well for both my team and for myself,” she said, last week after practice. “However, all the pressure is worth it because of how supportive my teammates are and how much I have come to love the sport over the past few years.”

Gillan was put into swimming lessons at a young age after an incident at a family gathering.

“Everyone looked away for a [second], I jumped out of my tube and I almost drowned in the pool,” she said.

That actually ignited her love of swimming, rather than chased her from it.

University of Tampa assistant coach Phil Murray noted that Gillan often doesn’t have the best practices but when the team goes to a meet, “she becomes a different person … it’s fantastic because we can rely on her every time she steps up there”.

AFor UTampa junior Sierra Gillan, swimming has been a lifelong passion. (Photo by Sulien Khan)

Asked about a race she was satisfied with, Gillan mentioned a meet against several Division I schools held at the University of South Carolina:

“There was a lot of great competition there, and I was very proud of how I did, going a personal best and just missing the school record.”

Despite the consistency, Gillan has indeed had instances where she could have performed better in a meet.

She pointed to the middle of this season where her 200m butterfly was immediately following the 200m backstroke. “[it] was a difficult double to perform and I wish I could have had another opportunity to swim it.”

Gillan pointed to Madysen Barnes, a senior on the team, when asked if there was a more experienced swimmer that has helped coach and mentor her along with her coaches.

A multi-sport athlete growing up, Gillan explained why she chose swimming:

“I’ve tried ever single sport under the sun but I’ve just always come back to swimming and I’ve just really found my love for it in college especially. Just this team has really brought it out of me.”

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Posted: Mar 14 2024 7:25 pm
Filed under: College Sports Swimming