Rebecca Waterson led the way for the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team (TTST) at the Sierra Nevada Swimming Short Course (25-yard) 14 & Under Junior Olympics held at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif., from March 8-10.
Waterson, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, raced to a gold-medal finish in the 9-10-year-old girls 50-yard butterfly with a time of 30.48. Waterson led the field of 32 top swimmers in the preliminary heats and came back in the evening to clinch the win in the finals. Her finals swim was .25 seconds off of the JO record in the event.
This capped off a great long weekend of swimming where she swam a meet maximum of seven events and two relays, earning her three third places, two fourths, two fifths and a sixth-place finish in addition to her win.
Waterson will continue her climb up the ladder of elite swimming in April with swims at the Far Western Invitational Championship meet in Morgan Hill, Calif. Athletes from across the United States, Mexico and Canada attend this prestigious meet, which has had its share of Olympic and world-record-holding athletes pass through its ranks when they were young.
Also qualifying for Far Westerns was Kate Rye, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Incline Middle School.
Rye also swam seven events and four relays for a full slate. Rye brought home two sixth-place medals in her signature events, the 50 and 100 freestyle. She accomplished two goals she set out to make at the meet: qualifying for Far Westerns and swimming the 100 Free in less than a minute.
TTST head coach Debbie Meyer sprinted across the pool deck after Rye’s 50 free finals swim to deliver the news that she qualified. The Junior Olympics are the first stop in championship age group swimming, and it is no small feat to qualify.
Ally Lockard, a sixth-grader at Incline Middle School, recently moved to the 11-12 age group with her 11th birthday this fall. Each older age group opens the doors to new and longer events to try.
Lockard made short work of qualifying for most of these new middle- and long-distance events, and swam the grueling 400 Individual Medley for only the second time at the meet. That is 100 yards of each stroke or four laps each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Lockard also swam in a meet maximum of seven events and four relays, and achieved several personal-best times.
In championship meets like the JOs, preliminary swims happen during the day and the top 10 finishers return after a 90-minute break each evening for the finals, making for 12-hour days. The conditions in Fairfield were variable at the outdoor pool and ranged from warm and mid 70s to high winds, chattering teeth and the need for down parkas.
Sierra Nevada Swimming includes teams from Northern California and Northern Nevada and has a long history of developing collegiate and Olympic swim team members, including three swimmers who competed in this past summer’s 2012 London Olympics. All three girls train together at Truckee Tahoe Swim Team, which offers training and practice groups for swimmers of all ages and ability levels.
Meyer, an Olympic Hall of Famer and three-time Olympic gold medalist, heads up the coaching staff. Learn more about TTST at www.truckeeswim.com.