UGA signee Scott leaving big mark at Duluth

Duluth swimming and diving coach Jim Reason speaks highly of Kelsey Scott's humility, so it's no surprise she downplays her impact on the Wildcats' program.

Although she's always one to put the team first, it's tough to overlook what Scott has done individually.

At last year's Gwinnett County Championships, she won two individual titles. No other Duluth girls swimmer had ever won two events at the same county meet. She went on to win the state championship in the 500 freestyle, taking home the first individual state championship ever won by a Wildcat girls swimmer.

The senior added another achievement by signing with the defending NCAA champion, Georgia.

Since Scott's not one to brag, it's a little easier for her coach to put her Duluth legacy into perspective.

"I've got to coach a lot of kids over the years, but she's the best," Reason said of Scott. "In terms of humility, talent, ability to swim big in big meets and just talent-wise. She's the best."

That's pretty high praise from a coach with 15 years of experience, 12 at the high school level. But her swimming career, full of outstanding accomplishments, almost didn't happen.

Scott began practicing with SwimAtlanta in fifth grade and hated it. She wasn't crazy about her coach. She thought the water was too cold. So she quit.

Two years later a friend talked her into coming back to SwimAtlanta.

This time everything went much better.

"It helped me to have a coach that was used to working with younger kids," Scott said. "And once I got to meets, it felt so great to improve your times and win events."

Since then she hasn't left SwimAtlanta. Along the way, she's built a strong swimming career that has helped the Duluth program greatly.

She holds three school records and as a team captain is one of the Wildcats' top leaders. Partly because she's so humble, according to Reason.

"The greatest thing about her is her humility," Reason said. "She's very team oriented. She's what a senior captain should be. She's loved and respected by her teammates because she puts the team first and her individual accomplishments second."

Which is why her thoughts of this year's state meet focus on team goals. She wants to win her two individual events - the 200 and 500 free - but she wants the first-place finishes because she knows her team needs them.

She was third in the state as a junior in the 200 free, but won the 500 free title. This year she'd like to win both.

"I'd like to see our girls go higher than we've ever gone before (in the team standings), which was seventh," Scott said. "If Lexie (Bryant) wins diving and I win my two events and the other girls do well, I think we could go fifth or higher."