Special Sets: A Look at the Training of Florida Recruit and Junior National Teamer Lilla Bognar

Lilla Bognar

Special Sets: A Look at the Training of Florida Recruit Lilla Bognar

As college swimming shifts into midseason training, future prospects for the University of Florida women continue to brighten. In the fall, the Gators landed two USA Swimming Junior National Team members in Lynsey Bowen (ranked fifth by Swimcloud.com) and Lilla Bognar (ninth) and added 20th-ranked Kathleen Turano for its incoming class in 2025. As of January, Bognar had been added to the USA World Championships squad for Doha and was still the fastest SCY 400 IMer (4:05.50) in her class, a time that would have placed her seventh in the 2023 NCAA-A final.

Bognar, from Travelers Rest, S.C., swims for Karl Kozicki at Team Greenville and Tiffany Watson at Eastside High in Taylors. In October, Bognar’s Eastside team won the South Carolina Girls’ 4A crown for the seventh straight year. In her three years, she is a 12-time state champion (six relays and three titles apiece in the 200 IM and 100 yard backstroke). In September, as a member of USA Swimming’s World Junior team, she notched a fourth-place finish in the 400 meter IM (4:42.83).

Her summer long course season wasn’t bad either. She secured 2024 Olympic Trials cuts in the 200 back (2:09.85) and 200-400 IM (2:15.16, 4:40.97) while achieving personal bests in the 200 free (2:03.17), 400 free (4:22.64), 200 back (2:09.85), 200 breast (2:36.26), 200 fly (2:14.21), 200 IM (2:15.16) and 400 IM (4:40.97). After earning a fourth in the 400 IM and 11th in the 200 back at U.S. nationals, Bognar finished Summer Juniors by placing second in the 200 fly (2:15.14), third in the 200 back (2:12.00) and 200 IM (2:16.35) and seventh in the 400 free (4:22.65).

Lilla Bognar

Courtesy: Karl Kozicki

Her fall prep work heading into December’s championship meets also served her well. In December at the U.S. Open, Bognar swam to a fourth-place 200 IM best time (2:14.39), notching an Olympic Trials cut and finishing sixth in the 400 IM (4:48.19).

Kozicki has been coaching Bognar since fall 2021. “The main component to Lilla’s success in the pool is ‘compound interest,’” he says. “She embraces being at workout every day. From a young age, she has always understood that competition is a reflection of training. Lilla was a gymnast and swimmer until she was 11. The attributes she has taken from her gymnastics experience has complemented her talents in the water.

“As a 10-and-under, it was evident she had extraordinary ability. That is when she began rewriting the record books in our LSC (10 LC, six SCY). In addition to her ability and happy-go-lucky personality, she makes it her mission every day to destroy whatever workout is on the board. We train Lilla for the 400 IM and 500 free so she can be as versatile as possible.”

SAMPLE SETS – Lilla Bognar

Long Course

  • 16 x 50 fly w/ fins @ 400 rhythm @ :45 (held 32s)

1-minute break

  • 4 x 200 back/breast x 100 “middle IM” @ 3:30; descend to goal pace (Lilla went from 2:50 to 2:32)

1-minute break

  • 8 x 100 free @ 1:45 (odd = smooth; even = 400 IM finish pace – held 1:05-ish)

Short Course

  • 400 free @ 6:00 smooth
  • 400 back @ 6:00 for time (4:13)
  • 300 free @ 4:30 smooth
  • 300 back @ 4:30 for time (3:08)
  • 200 free @ 3:00 smooth
  • 200 back @ 3:00 for time (2:00)
  • 100 free @ 1:30 smooth
  • 100 back for time (56)

“Finding new ways to challenge Lilla in workout is enjoyable for both of us. Her resilience and humbleness make her a pleasure to coach. Lilla is a people person: She has never met a stranger. She really enjoyed all the people she met during the recruiting process, but is very excited about being part of the swimming tradition at UF! She feels the training environment there will be best suited for her to continue her international success.

“At home in Greenville, we will be preparing the for U.S. Olympic Trials in June. In addition to our in-water training, Lilla has begun small-group dryland training with SwimStrong. She will also be traveling to Charlotte occasionally to train long course with Chuck Batchelor at SwimMAC. The goal is to make a championship finals heat in 400 IM and 200 back.

“I am grateful to have coached Lilla. She has taught me things about coaching at an elite level that have made me better. She is an amazing kid from a wonderful family,” says Kozicki.


  • 400 IM – 4:05.50 (best in class)
  • 200 back – 1:53.29
  • 100 back – 53.28
  • 200 IM – 1:58.09
  • 200 free – 1:46.68
  • 500 free – 4:45.39
  • 1650 free – 16:39.34

Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach, golf and swimming writer. His critically acclaimed coming-of-age golf novel, “Too Much Loft,” is in its third printing, and is available from store.Bookbaby.com, Amazon, B&N and book distributors worldwide.


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3 months ago

Lilla is such a fun swimmer to watch. And a real great person too. 😎🥰🙏

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