ELITE Otters Achieve 14 Junior Olympic Standard Times in Smashing Return to Long Course Swimming

Laura Otteson

PALM SPRINGS, CA – May 16, 2021 – The ELITE Otter Swim Team made a remarkable return to long course swimming by claiming 14 Summer Junior Olympic Standard Times this weekend in the YWSF 2021 Long Course Summer Opener at Goodyear, Arizona on May 15-16. 

The Otters were led by Casey Hecht, who surpassed Junior Olympic (JO) standard times in five out of six events, Istvan Banki who was three for three in JO cuts, Shayna Hecht who qualified for three JO events in her six swims, and Ava Otteson had three JO qualifying times this weekend, making a total of seven JO events she has qualified for this season.

The Junior Olympics are the highest class of competition in Southern California Swimming (SCS).  Typically, the barrier for qualifying JO times in each event is set high enough that approximately only 100 athletes in each age group will meet the standard set each year.  There are over 22,000 full-time SCS members.

What makes these achievements even more outstanding this year is that swimmers haven’t been able to train or compete in long course swimming events since July 2019, due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Long course swimming is more taxing because the distance is fifty meters versus short course’s twenty-five yards.

Coach Laura Otteson talked about the team’s achievement, “I’m thrilled with our performances.  I can list a dozen reasons why we should NOT have done well.  However, our kids came to compete and overcame the challenges!  We don’t yet know whether there will be a 2021 summer Junior Olympic meet but we would like to get some long course training in so that we can improve on these super efforts.”

Typifying almost every swimmer’s reactions to the arduous change to long course swimming was Istvan Banki, “I swam twenty-five yards and when I looked for the wall, it felt like I had another 10,000 meters to swim.”

Two new members of the ELITE Otters, Bella Arechiga, age 12, and Rafael Hurtado, age 8, made their team debuts this weekend in Goodyear, AZ.  Coach Laura Otteson commented, “We are thrilled that Bella and Rafael’s family made the long drive to Arizona to enable them to compete.  The kids swam their hearts out and displayed Otter determination.”

About ELITE Otters Swim Team:

ELITE Otters Swim Team is dedicated to providing positive encouragement and opportunity for all swimmers to pursue excellence in a safe environment, while also working to build self-discipline, sportsmanship and integrity.  Our primary focus is teaching proper stroke technique, racing skills and building endurance so our swimmers can compete and excel at ELITE levels.  Coaches believe communication, high expectations, and setting goals are critical components in achieving success in life and in the pool.  For more information please visit the team’s website at www.ELITEOtters.com

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