2016 Boys Swimmer of the Year: Milburn navigates busy schedule

Sherando junior Daniel Milburn swims for his school as well as for his club team, Nation's Capital Swim Club in Manassas Park. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY — It may not have always been fun, but Daniel Milburn knows the schedule he was on this winter was worth it.

The Sherando junior wanted to be able to swim with his high school team this year, even if it meant making some sacrifices — with his sleep.

Milburn also swims with his club team, Nation’s Capital Swim Club in Manassas Park. The team, coached by Olympian Jeremy Linn, practices eight times a week, including two-a-days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in which Milburn had to get up at 3 a.m. for a 4:45 a.m. practice before heading back to go to school at Sherando.

“I’ve gotten used to it,” Milburn said of his schedule.

Sherando coach Joe Knight and Milburn’s father came up with a plan and worked things out with the school to modify the rules so that as long as swimmers showed up to three practices every two weeks they could be on the team. It worked perfectly this season for everyone.

Milburn said he enjoys swimming for his club team, but he really wanted to swim for Sherando too.

“NCAP, it’s all ‘we’re going to get better,’ a competitive atmosphere,” Milburn said. “Sherando, it’s still a competitive atmosphere, but it’s also a team. We’re friends, we work together the best we can. I think it’s more fun.”

Milburn, the Northern Virginia Daily’s Boys Swimmer of the Year, certainly made the most of his time with Sherando this season.

He finished seventh in the 200 IM (2:02.79) at the Group 4A state meet and was part of two eighth-place relays — the 200 medley (1:43.40) and the 200 free (1:33.36).

“It was fun to go to states,” Milburn said. “The relay was a lot of fun. It was real easy to get hyped up and compete with everyone helping me. I did well in prelims, finals wasn’t quite as successful. Morning was really a lot of fun, because everyone was cheering each other on.”

Milburn said the finals was tough, because the way the tournament was set up. He said he didn’t get a lot of practice time before some of the events, which is something that he wasn’t used to.

He also swam in the 100 fly, but didn’t swim as well as he would have liked in the evening in that event.

The highlight for Milburn was being part of two all-state relay teams and swimming with teammates Jeremy Linaburg, Hunter Mayo, Ethan Medrano and David Restrepo.

Milburn said one of the best parts of the season was the Sweet Inspiration meet, where the 200 medley relay team and the 200 free relay team broke the school and pool records. The meet was held at Shepherd University.

“I think those records are going to stand for a while. It was really fun,” Milburn said. “…The relays did so well. Everyone just really swam the best they ever did. It was amazing.”

Milburn said another highlight was Sherando winning the Conference 21 West meet. The Warriors beat Woodgrove by 12 points for the title.

Milburn’s versatility gave Knight some real flexibility with the lineup. He could put Milburn wherever he needed to in order to help the team score more points, and Knight said Milburn was always willing to swim in whatever the team needed him to.

“From my perspective to have him cooperate with me in terms of writing the lineup, his flexibility, and being able to move him around to different events, helped us tremendously,” Knight said.

Milburn led the area in five different events, and qualified individually for the state meet in four events. Swimmers are only allowed to swim in two individual events. He chose to swim at the state meet in the 200 IM and the 100 fly instead of the 500 free or 100 breast.

He said he started swimming at an early age, but it wasn’t until his freshman year that Milburn began focusing only on swimming. He was part of Sherando’s state qualifying 400 free relay team as a freshman.

With the modified rules Milburn was able to be part of the team again this year, and Knight said that Milburn showed up even more than was expected.

Knight said that the other team members were happy to have Milburn back and were very welcoming of the modified rules.

“It’s something as a coach you always worry about,” Knight said. “How’s he going to be perceived, and I think he has several really close friends on the team. And then once he got on board and started attending practices it actually inspired and lifted the overall performance of our team, because they would watch him in the practice sessions and try to work just as hard and go just as fast as what he was going in our practice sets. So it really benefited our team.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com