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Swimmer Spotlight: Nathan Foucu, 10 years old, Age Group Elite


Nathan Foucu is a 10-year-old swimmer who started this season in the Gold group and moved up in late November into our Age Group Elite group coached by Ian McAlister. After being very sick in December he really showed his dedication with 82% attendance. With that dedication along with outstanding coaching from Ian; Nathan grew and soared during this training cycle. Nathan has just finished up a tremendous string of swim meets over the last month including our home Osprey meet, Junior Olympic Championships, Quicksilver meet in Watsonville, and Far Western Championships. Nathan attended all four full swim meets over the course of five weeks, just an incredible amount of swimming over that time. Nathan swam 37 races in those four swim meets. In those 37 races he did NOT improve his time just four times (including an exact tie of his 50 Freestyle), and once got disqualified (by one hand touch, still achieving the Junior Olympic time standard). Overall 32 best times out of 37 swims in just five weeks is astonishing.

Each training cycle we end with a tapering down of the yardage and effort level in order to recover our muscles and energy systems going into the final meet of the cycle, also known as the taper meet. Nathan’s journey started going into the Osprey Swim Meet. The Osprey Meet on March 2nd and 3rd was the “Last chance for JO’s” swim meet, Nathan had one Junior Olympic time standard, the 50 Free, going into the meet. Both Nathan and his coach Ian believed that he could get more times during the meet. At the Osprey Meet Nathan swam 8 races over two days and over those 8 races he ended up improving 6 times and achieving 4 new Junior Olympic time standards in the 100 (dropped 1.8 seconds), and 200 (dropped 9.3 seconds) Freestyle events, and the 200 I.M. (dropped 16.5 seconds) (note: he also achieved the JO standard in the 100 Breaststroke but was disqualified due to a one hand touch). Nathan also achieved the Far Western time standard in the 500 Freestyle (dropped 18.1 seconds).

Two weekends later, March 15th, 16th, and 17th, Nathan went to the Junior Olympic Championships with a total of 5 entered swims. This was his first ever championship trial and finals swim meet. At Junior Olympics, and meets above this, they swim the preliminaries in the morning. Preliminaries is just like a normal swim meet we all go to; the difference is that the top 10 kids in each event get to come back in the evening and swim the events again. It is basically another full swim meet with just one heat for each event that was swum in the morning, this is called Finals and Finals determine what place you ultimately end up getting in the event. Nathan ended up swimming 5 events and made finals in 3 events, swimming 8 times in the two days that he was at the meet. He made finals in the 100 and 500 Freestyle events, and the 200 I.M. The average ten-year old would not want to do the 500 Freestyle once let alone get the chance to do it two times in one day! Nathan was very excited and happy to be at all of his finals and to get the chance to race against this great competition. Nathan ended up improving in all 3 of his finals as well; it is impressive enough that he had just made the time standard two weeks prior to the meet and was now able to drop enough time to make finals and swim again in the evening (again for the first time) and again drop time at night. It really showed his competitive spirit and toughness all inside of his quiet calm shell. He was a tired boy at the end of those two long days at Junior Olympic Championships, but it paid off with 3 new Far Western time standards in the 100 (dropped 2.2 seconds), and 200 (dropped .5 seconds) Freestyle events, and the 200 I.M. (dropped 8.5 seconds).

The following week Nathan was with the rest of the team at the Quicksilver taper meet in Watsonville. There Nathan swam another 7 events earning another 2 Junior Olympic time standards in the 100 Breast (dropped 8.3 seconds and redemption from the DQ at the Osprey Meet), and in the 50 Butterfly (dropped 3.6 seconds). He also earned another 4 Far Western time standards at this meet in the 50 Free (dropped 1.1 seconds), 50 Back (dropped 1.7 seconds), 100 Butterfly (dropped 31.6 seconds, yes 31 seconds), and the 100 I.M. (dropped 5.9 seconds). At the end of the Watsonville swim meet, his third in roughly three weeks, he now had 10 Junior Olympics time standards and 8 Far Western time standards and the ability to swim at Far Western Championships just two weeks later.

Nathan now had to actually choose only 7 events to swim because there is a limit to how many you can swim at Far Westerns. Far Western Championships is a top 3 swim meet for a 14 and under swimmer in the entire United States. Over the years I have seen teams from Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, New York, Canada and even Mexico attend this swim meet. This was a great chance and test for Nathan, being his fourth swim meet in 5 weeks over 6 weekends, we were going to see how he handled the big stage and what he had left in his tank. The first day we saw that Nathan had plenty in his tank! His first race was the 200 Free and he ended up dropping another 6.5 seconds (a total of 16.4 seconds over all the meets) and making it into the top 10 Finals. He entered the meet in 26th place and ended up getting 8th going into Finals. He also had the 100 Butterfly that day and was strong adding about a second. Second day he swam the 200 I.M. adding just .8 and not making finals. His next swim was the 100 Freestyle. Nathan dropped another 1.2 seconds (5.8 over all the meets) and moving from 13th to 11th and making the consolation finals where he dropped another .5 seconds and won the consolation finals! Day three Nathan had only the 500 Freestyle and he really put his all into the race. He dropped another 7.3 seconds (31.2 seconds over all the meets) and again made the consolation finals and moved from 15th place to 13th place. The fourth and last day Nathan had the 100 I.M. in which he dropped another 3.6 seconds (9.9 seconds over all the meets) to move from 21st place to 10th place and make the top 10 Final. In the Final he stepped up and dropped another .3 and ended up getting 9th place. His last event was the 50 Freestyle, Nathan dropped .2 and ended up in a 3-way tie for 10th place! It is rare to have a tie in swimming but a 3-way tie is crazy! When there is a tie like this they will have a swim off before finals start to determine who gets to be in the top 10 Final or the consolation final. During the swim off everyone at the meet usually watches and cheers, especially if it is a swim off for the 10 and unders, the whole place was super loud. Nathan ended up dropping another .7 seconds and making it into the top 10 Final where he didn’t improve again but still moved up and finished in 8th place.

The amount of time dropped and swims that he improved was incredible and something I haven’t seen in quite some time. But to swim 37 times over 6 weekends and 10 days of swim meets all at a max out level is physically and mentally exhausting and Nathan really showed his toughness and love for this sport over those meets. He swam the 500 Freestyle 5 times, and raced 6,050 yards over the four meets. He really stepped up and took his swimming to the next level this past month. Together Nathan and Coach Ian are looking forward to the end of the year where Nathan already has 5 Junior Olympic time standards for 11-year olds, while still being 10 (but will be 11 by the next Junior Olympics). It has been simply amazing and also very fun to watch someone swimming at such a high level.