Justina Kozan Talks Move From BREA To Mission Viejo Amidst Pandemic

Various restrictions in different states, cities and counties left swim clubs across the United States in a variety of circumstances regarding when they would be able to return to a relatively normal practice schedule.

For Justina Kozan, one of the top age group swimmers in the country, this left her without a place to train at her home club, BREA Aquatics. So Kozan, 16, made the switch to the nearby Mission Viejo Nadadores, who were among the first teams back in the water in early May.

“I looked at several different teams, and I decided on Mission Viejo because they had more pool time and great competition at practice,” Kozan told SwimSwam. “My parents were involved, but I made the final decision. It was very hard leaving BREA, and I will always be thankful for coach Jim (Johnson) and my teammates.”

A two-time World Junior Championship gold medalist in the 200 IM and 4×200 free relay, Kozan had her first practice with her new club during the last week in May, also making the move to Mission Viejo to avoid the 45-minute commute. Previously attending Walnut High School, Kozan will now attend Santa Margarita for her final two years of high school.

In regards to whether she would have made this move if it wasn’t for COVID-19, Kozan said: “I don’t think I would since the Olympics were supposed to be this summer and changing teams right before the Olympics would be too big a change. But I am pleased about my decision to join Mission Viejo.” 

So far, under head coach Mark Schubert, Kozan is keeping a very busy training schedule with 10 two-hour practices per week. She is also enjoying how the team uses equipment more frequently than she’s used to.

Kozan boasts incredible versatility across all four strokes, and came in at #3 on our “Way Too Early” recruit rankings for the high school class of 2022. She’s also the fastest 400 IMer currently in the class with a best time of 4:05.67 (SCY). That versatility also translates over to the long course pool, including wins in the 200 free, 200 fly and 200 IM at the 2019 U.S. Junior Championships to go along with her success at World Juniors.

Kozan is unsure when she and the Nadadores will be able to return to competition but anxiously awaits her next opportunity.

“I hope we will be able to race soon,” she said. “I am looking forward to the first major competition, the TYR Pro Series in Irvine (which will run Nov.12-16).”

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SCCOACH
1 year ago

I’m not a fan of articles reporting age group swimmers jumping clubs.

—PC Police

Sid Frisco
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 year ago

“Jumping clubs” seems a little harsh under the circumstances.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Sid Frisco
1 year ago

As I read it the intention was to switch clubs eventually even without COVID (most likely being after Olympic trials.)But regardless, the reason seems fine, I just don’t think reporting on it is necessary. It’s always going to make the club the swimmer is leaving look bad and I don’t think it’s healthy for age group swimming as a whole for things like this to be reported on. Leave it for college and pro’s.

I could be being overly sensitive which is why I included a sarcastic “pc police” quip, but that’s how I feel.

Ferb
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 year ago

So, you were kind of kidding, but not really…

SCCOACH
Reply to  Ferb
1 year ago

Exactly

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 year ago
Lil Swimmy
1 year ago

Wishing her the best in her future endeavors!!

Sid Frisco
Reply to  Lil Swimmy
1 year ago

So it appears at least 3 readers do not wish her the best in her future and the endeavors. Really? Guess when you are that good you pick up some haters along the way. Seriously weak.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Sid Frisco
1 year ago

No it is likely a sentiment towards a / any smaller club that developes a swimmer to a high standard ; then cannot offer water time because they are not connected.. It is a nod t o all the clubs in a Covid19 situation across the US.

SoCal Swim Dad
1 year ago

Justina and her family are great people and I wish them nothing but the best. Are they still practicing? Word is five OC-based clubs were instructed by the county to stop holding practices.

SWSwimMom
Reply to  SoCal Swim Dad
1 year ago

We’re still in the pool.

Snarky
1 year ago

Covid refugees.

ThomSib
1 year ago

“I am looking forward to the first major competition, the TYR Pro Series in Irvine.” Haha – no way this is happening. Irvine Novaquatics, who is scheduled to host the meet has been shut down. If anyone thinks it’s going to be any better in November, they are delusional.

All swim programs (“that are obeying state orders”) have been shut down in Orange County. But we all know Shubert is above the law both in running a club and protecting kids from abuse.

clarify
Reply to  ThomSib
1 year ago

Let’s be clear, Nova was holding practices and skirting the rules too. Lets not point fingers just cuz you got caught/shut down.

Sid Frisco
Reply to  ThomSib
1 year ago

Very unlikely that come November we will see any significant change. However any narrative that focuses on an individual -I am “guessing” you don’t care for Schubert- and not on getting and keeping swimmers in the pool accomplishes nothing. Teams across the country are practicing and competing in USA Swim sanctioned meets with safety measures in place. I hope they all keep at it and more join.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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