Glenwood Springs High School swimmer Amy Madsen signs with Puget Sound
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Amy Madsen vividly remembers her first-ever swim race as a member of the Sopris Barracudas team when she was just 6.
“I was incredibly nervous, and I didn’t know if I wanted to swim,” the Glenwood Springs High School senior said. “But my mom was like, ‘You know what, just do this one race and tell me how it feels.’
“I touched that wall first, and I was like, ‘Mom, did you see that!’ I just fell in love with swimming immediately,” said Madsen, who made her mark for several years at the club level with the Barracudas and Team Sopris, and went on to be one of the most consistent members of the GSHS varsity swim team.
Recently, Madsen decided to take her talents to the collegiate level, signing her National Letter of Intent to swim for the University of Puget Sound, where she plans to attend college.
Madsen is the daughter of Stevie and Corey Madsen, and grew up in Glenwood Springs attending Sopris Elementary, Glenwood Springs Middle School and Glenwood Springs High School.
She played other youth sports and tried cross country running for a season in high school, but swimming has always been her sports passion, Madsen said.
After placing second at the Class 3A state championships in February in the 100 freestyle and swimming as part of the Demons’ state champion 200 freestyle relay team, Madsen began to set her sights on swimming in college.
But the right fit was important, she said.
“I went for a couple of visits this past year and talked to the coach there, and Puget just really checks off everything on my list,” said Madsen, 17, who eventually plans to pursue a master’s degree in physical therapy after studying exercise science during her undergraduate years.
“I looked at some other schools in California and Oregon, and it was definitely a hard decision. But I’m more than sure that I made the right one,” she said.
Madsen said she embraced swimming as a young athlete because she likes that it’s an individual sport, but with a strong team bonding component.
“All my best friends are on the swim team, and I love the idea of working on improving yourself and racing against the clock and trying to improve your previous PRs (personal records),” she said. “I’m also just super competitive, and as a team we all push each other a lot.”
Longtime Barracudas and Demons swim coach Steve Vanderhoof said it was evident early on that Madsen had a great feel for the water.
He remembers when she was 12 and won the Colorado state club championship in the 100 freestyle.
“Amy’s championship helped bring Team Sopris from a struggling 30-member team six years ago to nearly 100 swimmers today,” Vanderhoof said. “Her championship displayed to her teammates what is possible.”
That mentorship carried over to the Demons relay team this past season, and was a big part of them winning the state championship, he said.
“We are all very excited for Amy, and I believe Puget Sound University will be a better place with Amy on the team,” Vanderhoof said.
Madsen said she expects to continue concentrating on the freestyle sprint events, although she has worked to improve her breaststroke in the sprints, as well.
“My best event is still the 100 freestyle, followed by the 50 free,” she said, adding she hopes to land a spot on the Loggers’ sprint relays.
Puget Sound competes at the NCAA Division III level, so her signing does not include an athletic scholarship. Madsen said she was able to make that up with several academic and club swimming scholarships.
“Division III can still be super fast, so it’s very competitive,” Madsen said. “But I definitely wanted to focus a little bit more on my education than swimming, but swimming is still a very big and important part of my life.”
Madsen also loves being a role model for her much-younger siblings, ages 2 and 4.
“My 4-year-old sister is probably actually going to start swimming for the Barracudas,” she said. “They have the competitive genes, for sure, and they like to try and race me whenever we go to the pool.”
As a family, she said her family is more into running and triathlons. She said she also enjoys competing in triathlons, and will likely continue to do triathlon races for fun.
“I’ve done quite a few with my mom over the past few years,” Madsen said. “It’s just something really fun to do and train together.”
Mom Stevie Madsen said Puget Sound should be a great fit for her daughter.
“I am very excited for Amy,” she said. “University of Puget Sound has a competitive swim program, and a very strong sense of community. I’m very excited for her to take this next step.”
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