Dylana Milobar has been the biggest fish in Kamloops pools for the past few swimming seasons.
As of this morning, she's something of a minnow in the vast world that is the NCAA.
Milobar, 17, leaves today for Bakersfield, Calif., where she will enrol at the California State University campus there. She and her family packed up a camping trailer yesterday for what will be a four-day trip south.
School doesn't start until mid-September, but Milobar felt that joining her teammates when practices open Monday would make a good impression on everyone. Leaving Kamloops early doesn't change how she's feeling, however.
"I'm more excited than anything," says Milobar, who plans to study journalism. "I'm not that nervous because I've already been down there so it's not totally alien to me."
In any case, the first few weeks of life in Bakersfield may feel a little alien to the Valleyview grad. Milobar will be living in a house with teammates before moving into a dormitory when classes start.
There's also the matter of adjusting to life in a new town and a new country. And, because California doesn't issue driver's licences to under-18 drivers, Milobar will be left to ride her bike to get around.
But still, once she's in the pool, she can forget about everything.
"I've been training by myself, just to stay in shape and keep a feel for the water," Milobar says. "When I get down there, the season picks up and we start hard training right away."
One of the hardest parts of leaving Kamloops is leaving her club, the Classics, for which she has toiled since she was six years old. She excelled early, making age group nationals - for the younger swimmers - when she was 12 and cracking the standard for senior nationals in 2012, when she was 16.
Brad Dalke, who, up until age-group nationals in Montreal last month, was Milobar's coach, passed on some wisdom to one of his star students. He also is a major reason why Milobar is where she is.
"He told me to make the most of it and to keep working hard," Milobar says. "He was really supportive - he's the one who suggested I go swim in university."
The life of a competitive swimmer is spent in the pool, doing lap after lap after lap after lap . . .
But Milobar has loved it, and has as many fond memories as she has medals. When asked to describe her proudest moment with the Classics, she spoke of her clubmates.
"Getting as many people qualified for national meets as we did . . . was really cool," Milobar admits. "A few years ago, we were getting 20 kids to provincials. Just last year, we had 20 kids going to nationals."
What about all she accomplished?
Did she forget about being named rookie of the meet at the senior national championships in 2012? How about winning enough medals to fill a station wagon? Qualifying for Olympic and world trials as a high-school student?
"I'm super proud of that stuff," she says, "but this is different."
Despite the success, Milobar, who will specialize in breaststroke for the Roadrunners at Bakersfield, fully expects to have her new coach, Chris Hansen, change some things. The Western Athletic Conference season doesn't start until October, but Hansen, in the news release announcing Milobar's signing, stated "Dylana and early signer Sara Christiansen are going to dominate the breast events for us this year."
Milobar is eager to learn, and prepared to work.
"There are a lot things I still have to work on," Milobar says. "My stroke is nowhere near perfect, and I need to work on my walls and turns. I think they'll take some time to evaluate and see what they need to change, and then get into the technique stuff as I build more strength."
All students making the transition after high school face what can be considered a journey, but what lies ahead of Milobar is a journey in more of a literal sense.
She and her parents, Peter and Lianne, and siblings Kayleigh and Ethan will spend much of four days crammed into the family truck, towing a trailer. They'll be spending three nights in it, doing some sightseeing and driving during the days, before arriving in Bakersfield on Saturday.
That isn't a typical teenager's idea of fun - but Dylana is looking forward to one last trip with the family before leaving the nest.
"It's nice - it gives us a little extra time," she says, "and my brother and sister can see the school and everything."