My Journey to Junior Nationals

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Elizabeth Miller

By Allie Wooden ’15, Contributor

During the week of July 22nd, college and club teams met in Miami, Ohio to compete at the Sectional Championships.  Times must have been achieved earlier in the season in order to qualify for the meet. I qualified in many events, but I chose to swim only the 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 freestyle and 100 backstroke.  In the prelims which took place the morning of the first day, I placed first in the 50 freestyle with a time of 26.56 seconds, as well as dropping 14 seconds in the 800 freestyle. When I walked out for the 50 free at finals that night, I stared down the girls on either side of me and when the buzzer sounded, I jumped. Down the one length of the pool I only took three breathes and in the last three meters I lunged for the wall. Looking up at the score board I saw it said “WOODEN-1st”. Next to that it said 26.27! That time qualified me for the 2012 Olympic Trials, but now it’s a 2013 US Open qualifying time. In addition to this achievement, I broke my club team, the Cincinnati Marlins’ team record that had stood for 29 years. I couldn’t believe it. All of my hard work had finally paid off.  I also finished 7th in the 800 after the final heat swam. I did well the rest of the meet, collecting another Junior National cut in the 100 freestyle and two Junior National bonus cuts in the 200 and the 800 freestyle. My journey to Junior Nationals went according to plan, and then it was off to Irvine California to swim in the Junior National Championships.

Junior Nationals consists of the fastest swimmers in the nation eighteen years of age or younger who have achieved a qualifying time in one or more events. After spending a week in Las Vegas training, stretching, and mentally preparing for Juniors, I met up with my coach and two of my teammates in California. The first day I had the 800 freestyle in which I dropped seven seconds from my previous best time at Sectionals. I ended up finishing 58th out of 101 people in the event.  The next two days were the 50 and 100 freestyle. In the 50, I was seeded 16th, the highest I was ranked at the meet.  The race did not entirely go as planned and I finished 34th out of 170 swimmers, with a 26.60. I was not pleased with my performance, but decided to use the motivation to do well in the 200 and 400 freestyles. During the next few days, I swam the 200 free and 400 free. I swam personal bests in both and added two more qualifying times to my achievements. I finished 54th out of 185 in the 200 and 58th out of 133 in the 400. I dropped two seconds in the 200 and five seconds in the 400.

I finished this season very well and I was sad to see it go. I am confident that the upcoming season holds in store bigger and better things for me to work toward, and I look forward to the challenge.