Cecil M. Colwin
Penny helped to recruit Julia to Nebraska in January,
1994, and it was there that their friendship developed. Julia trained with
assistant coach Jan Bidrman, and had Penny as her training partner. Julia
says "I think it was good for both of us to work off each other. Penny
is really good at swimming all-out with 100% effort."
Did Julia have trouble keeping up with Penny? Penny
herself quickly supplied the answer "I think Julia handles the workout
better, because she knows how to pace herself."
According to Julia, "I'm probably more experienced
at the workout, so it's not a problem. It's just that it helps me to see
where I am, because I was so used to working out, and doing these types
of sets, and this helped Penny.
"They are just so friendly over there. They
are always willing to help you out, and the big thing, at that stage, was
that there were a lot of South Africans on the team, so it was kind of like
being at home.
"From early on, I knew that this was exactly
where I wanted to be, and I clicked with Jan's workout. Change is always
good, and I started to swim really well."
Julia, now an All-American star, is Nebraska's
highest point scorer ever at the NCAA championships. She finished 12th in
the Olympic 200 breaststroke (2:30.38), and recently broke Penny's 50 yard
university breaststroke record. The two women finished 1-2 in both breaststroke
events in the Big Eight Conference Championships in Oklahoma City.
"Cal Bentz, our Head Coach, has so many great
qualities," says Julia. "You don't know where to start. He's a
coach, but he's also more than your friend; he's like your family. He is
always there to encourage you, if you need it, or to instruct you if you
need it. He knows exactly what you want, or what you need, and he knows
everyone on such an individual basis, and that is remarkable. He's definitely
a `people person.'
Penny said, "Coach Bentz seems to have a soft
spot for foreigners, but also it seems especially for guys who are a little
unsettledI won't say `delinquent,' not quite that badbut people who may
have had a bit of trouble. He's always has a soft spot. He's always helping
out someone like that. It's sort of hard to define whether he's the grandfather
or the father of all of us."
Julia agrees. "He believes that everyone should have a second chance, and I think that's why he helps people like that to get back on their feet, and to make the best of themselves."