She’s been competing in youth swimming since she was 4 years old. Now she competes in track and field, and she stands out in both sports.
Not only that, in the classroom, she’s a member of the National Junior Honors Society.
No matter what she’s put her mind into doing, Riverwood Middle School student Julia Shimel has excelled in whatever she dedicates her time to.
In swimming, which she has competed in for the better part of a decade, she will be competing in a meet two weeks from now at the University of Texas at Austin. In that, among her goals for that meet, Julia said that she hopes to make the final in every event and possibly win an event.
This isn’t the first time she’s been at the state level stage in swimming, but her journey started at the local level.
“She practices five to six days a week, and then every year she’s made it to the state finals … She started out in the local community summer league teams here in Kingwood, and so did her sister; she has other sisters,” Dan Shimel, her father, said. “It’s a fun, but competitive summer league that a lot of people are familiar with in the community.”
Dan said that at about 6 or 7 years old, Julia transitioned to full-time swimming. She now swims with the Eagle Swimming Association, which is a club team that practices at Atascocita and Summer Creek High Schools.
However, because middle school sports doesn’t offer swimming and because she didn’t feel she was a part of her peer group, Dan said she decided to take up cross country, and later track and field, this past year so she could be a part of school spirit.
“That’s what’s kind of neat, is that she wanted to participate, but continue swimming club and be competitive, which she is,” Dan said, adding that he and his wife went to their first cross country meet ever last September and didn’t know what to expect.
Julia herself said she likes running but didn’t anticipate she would take up those sports until she got to Riverwood.
“I probably started thinking about it maybe sixth grade, beginning of sixth grade,” Julia said, and also said she maybe thought about that a little before because her older sister competes in track and field as a sprinter.
Julia finished 17 seconds ahead of the competitor behind her in that first cross country meet and went on to have an outstanding year in that sport as well.
Then came track and field, where she continued to stand out … And not just stand out, but break records.
On March 28, at Turner Stadium, she broke a long-standing Riverwood Middle and Humble ISD record in the 2400 meter run with a time of 8:49.10.
Breaking a record had been on Julia’s mind before then, and she said she felt really good when she got it and relieved that she finally did it.
“It was a school record and then the district record,” Dan said, “so you think that there’s been so many athletes who’ve come through the district all these years; there’s some really good athletes.”
For her eighth-grade year that is upcoming, Julia said she wants to break two records; the mile and mile-and-a-half records, and continue to do well both on the track and in the pool.