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Neptune Swimmers Share their Western Zone and NACC Stories - updated

Five Neptune swimmers had the honor of representing Pacific Swimming in all-star meets at the Western Zone Meet in Gresham, OR and the North American Challenge Cup in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Some of them tell their stories below.

Here is the report from Black Group swimmer Heidi Poppe:

I had a great time at the North American Challenge Cup. It was really neat representing Pacific swimming because all the competition you’re used to at JO’S was now on your team. My team did everything together as a group: meals, bus rides to the pool and hanging out at the meet was all done together. I also got to stay in a college (University of Alberta) dorm room with two other girls in my age group.

The competition was very different from JO’S and Far Westerns because the pool had the big yellow touch pads that they have at the Olympics so you couldn’t grab the wall (gutter) on a fly or breast open turn. Even though I sometimes got nervous I learned to be happy with my swim as long as I went my hardest and tried my best. The Canadian swimmers were really good.

I would definitely want to be part of the North American Challenge Cup team again because it was a great experience, and I recommend anyone who gets the chance to apply as well because it is super fun! Just remember to practice without grabbing the wall so you’re not in for a big surprise when you arrive at the pool.

Neptune Senior Elite swimmer Derek Baldwin was a member of the Pacific Swimming team competing at the Western Zone Meet. Derek had an outstanding meet, winning several events and setting several SRN team records in the process.  He shares some of the highlights of his experience here:

I participated in the Western Zones competition this last week. The experience was amazing, every aspect of the meet was enjoyable. The meet itself was impressive - there was not one swimmer there that did not take the competition seriously, although some were more serious than others of course.

The meet reminded me of a much larger high school competition.  Each zone created its own group and the team spirit was astounding,  Almost all of the swimmers would cheer for their team mates during trials, and during finals all swimmers of a given zone would cheer for their teammates unless prevented by their own upcoming swim.

Also when you swam it wasn’t necessarily the time that mattered in your swim but your place. Many a time my fellow teammates would add time in trials only to make finals and get a PR on top of dropping time from the morning. Also the improved performance of one swimmer often lead to the improved performance of another swimmer. Though the Pacific team had a monopoly on the 17-18 boys swims, in other age groups the competition was even and challenging. 

My teammates were great people, though it took a little to break the ice on the first day. After that we all became great friends and I made some friends for life. They are amazing people that I had the great opportunity to interact with. They truly reinforced the  idea that you can have swimmers totally dedicated to swimming but so open to socialize and never bring up relative speed or have egos. The travel accommodation and schedule actually promoted the interaction of swimmers primarily with your age group but also throughout the group as well.

I would do this trip again in a heartbeat if possible. My advice to all who make this team is to have fun with it. Breakdown any ideas of a need to go fast and have fun, cause if your there and you just pay attention to your swims your focus and your team mates energy will make you go fast and if not this meet isn’t designed to be a fast meet it is meant to be a relaxed meet to have fun and meet other people!

Black Group swimmer Jenna Bauer was part of the Pacific Team that went to the North American Challenge Cup.  She shares her thoughts on her first international swimming competition here:

As much as I have enjoyed swimming, I have never had as much fun as I did this past week.  I got to represent Pacific Swimming at the North American Challenge Cup in Canada with my friend and teammate Heidi Poppe.  I had a blast swimming hanging out with my friends from teams from all over Northern California.  Even the plane ride was fun. I also liked meeting swimmers from Southern California, Mexico and Canada. 

We stayed in dorm rooms at the University of Alberta.  We had a blast at night and even had a dance party with all of the teams on the last night (I partied until 2:00am!)

The pool that we swam at was awesome - it reminds me of the pool that we see on TV when we watch the Olympics.  While there aren’t as many stands, the building was huge and it had an awesome scoreboard with everyones name on it.   

I was nervous at first because the competition was so good but I learned that it was really just like swimming at any other swim meet.  However, in a meet like this every little thing can make a difference between winning and coming in last.  I now know why it’s so important that we work hard in practice and listen to everything our coaches are teaching us.

I wish every Neptune swimmer could go to a meet like this because it’s such a great experience.   If you want to get picked to go to a meet like this, my advice is to set goals for yourself, work hard in practice and never give up.