Julian Barrios- Underdog


Caroline Sisson

Imagine this. You’ve just swum one of the best races of your career. As a junior, you are now ranked in the top three in the state. You climb out of the pool, excited, thinking, “Maybe today is the day.” After the meet you warm down and walk to your bag slowly, keeping an eye on the Holland Sentinel reporter who is almost sure to interview you. You grab your things and start to walk to the locker room when he waves at you to come over. You walk over excitedly and say hello just as he turns to the person walking behind you and begins to ask him a series of questions.

  Welcome to a day in the life of Jr. Julian Barrios. Since he was nine years old, Barrios has a been a key performer for the West Ottawa Swim Club, and he is now one on the West Ottawa High School Boy’s Swim and Dive team as well. Barrios made his first club swimming state cut at the age of nine and has never looked back.

  In swimming, it’s unusual but not unheard of for a freshman boy to make the state team because of how fast the cuts are, but in his freshman year of high school, Barrios made a state cut in the 100 breaststroke in a last chance effort at the OK Red Conference meet. Though he didn’t make it back to finals, the fact that he was at the meet attested to his speed. During his sophomore year, Barrios was on the second place medley relay team and placed seventh individually in the 100 breaststroke earning him both All-State and All-American honors – a huge jump from his freshman year.

  The most shocking part about all of this? Barrios has received few  accolades for his accomplishments.  Barrios has never had an article written about him in the Holland Sentinel. Barrios has only been quoted once in one of their articles. But he doesn’t let this discourage him. Barrios has been working hard his whole swimming career in order to be the best he can be. He is ranked 18th in the state for the 11th grade overall, and it’s as if he has never been here. Barrios has been flying under the radar for almost his entire swimming career, but this year that is about to change.

  Barrios is currently ranked 2nd in the state of Michigan in the 100 breastroke, putting him in a position to possibly win the 100 breaststroke at the Division One state meet. “I’ve been keeping my head down and just working hard in practice with the chance of winning, and I’d want people to be surprised,” Barrios said.

  Coach Steve Bowyer admires Barrios’ ability to work hard without any recognition of his accomplishments: “Julian really attests to the idea that you can be great without people knowing you are great,” Bowyer said. “I really think this year will be the year he kind of breaks out of his shell and people start to recognize his name. He has a shot to win the 100 breast this year at the state meet and I can’t wait to see where his hard work and determination takes him.”

  Jr. Ryan Langdon, one of Barrios’s best friends and teammates, says that Julian’s hard work isn’t about proving himself to others but more about being the best he can be: “Julian works hard for himself – not for others. He may be an underdog but he has nothing to prove. He is already one of the best and I don’t think he minds that other people may not see that just yet,” Langdon said. Barrios agrees. “I don’t feel like I have anything to prove because I already proved it. I just have to make sure I keep proving it so nobody forgets,” Barrios said.

  Being the underdog is a position that a lot of people don’t want to be in. However, Barrios is taking his role as THE underdog of WO swimming with stride. He has goals and dreams that only concern himself, so his only real concern is accomplishing them, not letting other people know about them. As for the future, Barrios has set his sights high: “My goals are to break the 12 year old varsity record and get top three at state,” Barrios said.

  The boy’s next home meet is February 9 at home against Hudsonville.