Bears Land St Louis Backstrokers Madison Brown and Lillian van Biljon

Backstroke has been a strength for the Missouri State Lady Bears for as long as the program has been clawing their way through the Missouri Valley Conference.  Coaches Dave Collins and Chelsea Dirks-Ham have been pulling several strong athletes from the St Louis area lately, this time adding A-final backstroke power to the squad with two additions from separate clubs.

Photo Courtesy of Madison Brown

Photo Courtesy of Madison Brown


Madison Brown currently swims for Jon David Williford and Thom Bick at Parkway Swim Club where she is a multiple event Futures qualifier, specializing in backstroke. At Parkway Central High School she has been Team Captain and MVP, to go along with multiple A-final finishes at the MSHSAA Championship. Madison plans to pursue a degree in Business Marketing. She has an older brother, Riley, who swims at Truman State University.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans,” (Proverbs 16:3). I had a stressful start of senior year trying to decide what school would be best for me, but once I went on Missouri State’s Campus, I knew God had led me to where I needed to be. Go Bears!”

Best times (SCY):

  • 200 Back- 2:03.01    
  • 100 Back- 57.41   
  • 200 IM- 2:11.31    
  • 100 Fly- 59.21     
  • 200 Free- 1:55.35   
Photo Courtesy of Lillian van Biljon

Photo Courtesy of Lillian van Biljon


Lillian van Biljon will be joining former teammates, Conner Ripp, Anna Miller, Sydney Zupan and Phillip Willett on the Bears’ roster, broadening Rockwood Swim Club Head Coach Mary Liston’s contribution to the strength of the Missouri State squad.  At Lafayette High School, training under Todd Gabel, Lillian has been an A-finalist at the MSHSAA Championship, and she is an NCSA Junior National qualifier. Lillian and her younger sister, Claire, who is becoming a strong swimmer in her own right, have dual citizenship based on her father’s South African origins.  She hopes to study Biology or Mathematics with eventual ambition to enter medical school.

“I chose Missouri State to further my academic and swimming because this team is awesome with so much pride! Missouri State has many academic opportunities for me as well! I can’t wait to be a Bear.”

Best Times (SCY):

  • 100 Back- 56.90
  • 200 Back- 2:06.45
  • 100 Free- 53.96
  • 50 Free- 24.63
  • 200 IM- 2:11.45
  • 100 Fly- 1:00.86


Both Lillian and Madison would have earned A-final positions in at least one event at the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Championship, which says a lot about their potential to contribute to the Bears’ at a high level.  Lillian’s 100 backstroke would have edged her into 8th place in the final, Madison’s 200 back would have been 5th.  Both girls would also have contributed points in the other backstroke distance and have the potential to move into scoring range for several more events before they ever set foot on the MSU campus.

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