March 2, 2014
SWAMIs Gear Up for Utah State Championships
ROSE PARK --- Eight SWAMIs are preparing for the annual Utah Short Course Age Group Swimming Championships, which will be held at the South Davis Recreation Center March 5th-8th, 2014. A total of six swimmers will compete in individual events, while two other SWAMIs will help contribute to relay teams for 10&Under Girls and 11-12 Girls, respectively.
According to head coach and executive director Matt Finnigan, this year's short course team is the largest contigency that will represent Race Swami since its inception in January 2011. Of the six swimmers who qualified for the individual events, five are "homegrown" athletes who hail from the neighborhoods of Salt Lake City's west side community. Additionally, of the two swimmers who will contribute to the relays over the course of the meet, both happen to be Rose Park residents.
"Though this is a very small group to be representing a USA swim club comparatively speaking," Finnigan said, "it is huge for us at this time because these are kids who joined our club with absolutely no experience in the sport of swimming. We built this team from scratch, and virtually all the kids are local. Though our goal each year is to place more kids in these championship meets—which we have done— we recognize the significance of the fact that seven of the 8 who made it were local kids from the communities we serve. That stat means a lot to us... to our coaching staff."
For the State Championship meet, there are stringent time qualifications an athlete must meet for each event they enter. A maximum of eight events entered per swimmer is permitted. For SWAMI, two 10&under girls achieved six or more events, surprising when you consider neither one had swam for more than a year. "A testament to our kids for the work they were willing to put in, and to the coaching staff for weaning them along as they learned new skills," Finngan said.
As for SWAMI's possible beacon of stardom, 12-year old Peyton Ledbetter could be the headliner for Race Swami this weekend. She will be racing in the maximum 8 events allowed, along with three relays over the course of the three day meet. If Peyton were to qualify for finals in each of her 8 events entered; coupled with the relays—that would be the potential for 19 total races for this budding star. "Yeah, I kinda figured that out when it was mentioned to me," Peyton said nonchalantly. "I think it's just a matter of getting enough rest between each race and enough sleep between each day. But most of all, I just want to have fun with my teammates and my friends."
The list of SWAMIs includes: Angie Fregoso (10&Under Girls, swimming 6 events plus three relays), Natasha Franco (10&Under Girls, swimming 7 events plus three relays), Arianna Holsten (11-12 Girls, swimming one event plus three relays), Nele Kaufusi (11-12 Girls, swimming 2 events plus thee relays), Peyton Ledbetter (11-12 Girls, swimming 8 events plus 3 relays), Sephra Masina (10&Un Girls, swimming one event plus three relays). The two relay representatives are Julia Muñoz (11-12 Girls, swimming three relays) and Daniela Thompson (10&Un Girls, swimming three relays).