The Columbia River Swim Team (CRST) recently participated in the 2012 Speedo Western Zone Champions, or commonly called “Senior Sectionals” at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The event lasted four days and included high-level swimmers from 12 states, according to Doug Lombard, co-founder of CRST. The swimmers included high school and college stars, as well as former Olympians.
“You have to be proficient and fast to even get there,” said Lombard. “Nine kids from our local swim club went and 90 percent of them got best times, setting personal records.”
The event is considered one step below Olympic trials and several of the swimmers are currently trying to attain Junior National and Olympic trials cuts.
CRST sent the following swimmers to Senior Sectionals: Eric Bugna, Kasey Calwell, Jaron Hamlik, Jim Nguyen, Darya Samlee, Julia Sanders, Alex Suk, Felicia Williamson, and Andrea Young.
The swimmers competed in multiple events, and most got best times. Three, however, placed top 15 in their respective events. This is a major achievement considering the competition.
Jaron Hamlik placed 15th in the Boys 200 meter Individual Medley (IM); and Julia Sanders placed 14th in the Girls 50 meter Freestyle and 15th in the Girls 200 IM.
|Jaron Hamlik looks forward to competing at|
upcoming Santa Clara Invitational. He placed 15th in the
Boys 200 IM at Federal Way.
“This was not my first time competing on a sectional level, I've competed in senior sectionals every season for about two or three years now,” said Sanders. “I've also competed in Junior Nationals several times and swam the 100 butterfly at Senior Nationals when they were here in Federal Way. Competing at high level meets is very exciting, they have a completely different feel than age-group level meets. It's a lot of fun and really motivating to travel as a team and compete with some of the fastest swimmers in the Nation.”
Sanders has two main goals for the next few years in her swimming career. The first is to make an Olympic trials cut, and the second is to swim at a division one college after she graduates in 2013.
Hamlik continues to impress those around him, but maintains modesty and said he “felt pretty good” and continues to think about getting ready for the next season.
Kasey Calwell, who competed with Camas High School this past season, felt good about his performance at Senior Sectionals. He dropped times in several of his races.
“It was so much different than the high school state meet because first of all, kids from 12 states competed in this meet,” said Calwell. “With high school states, it was just Washington. So that adds a very different element to it. And this is the first meet that you really see Olympic-bound kids such as Missy Franklin, who's got a world record in the 200 Back and swims for the Colorado Stars in Denver. It is so much more competitive, so it really motivates you to see if you can move up in the coming years. You see what the Olympic people go, and you say to yourself, ‘How can I get there?’ So that's my mindset coming out of it.”
Two weeks prior to the Senior Sectionals, CRST placed second at the Oregon Senior Championships for swimmers 13 and older. The nine swimmers that made it to the Senior Sectionals in Federal Way achieved specific time standards at the Oregon event or at some point during the season. Those time achievements made it possible for them to go to Senior Sectionals.
Lombard said Hamlik and Sanders are aggressively working toward achieving qualifying Olympic Trials times, and “that is a big deal.”
“Olympic trials are very difficult to meet,” said Lombard. “It’s like making the NCAA tournament and only the top two in each Olympic trial event go onto the Olympics. The Olympic swim team consists of 34 swimmers.”
The team’s next meet is the Santa Clara International Meet at the end of May. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has frequented the event in year’s past.
Hamlik expects to compete in the 100 Back and 200 IM at the very least. “Those are the only ones I think I’m qualified in right now.”