Swimming in an outdoor 50-meter pool while challenged by variable weather conditions, four young Incline Village swimmers proved Tahoe girls are tough. All four train and compete with the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team (TTST), which sent 18 swimmers to the Sierra Nevada Swimming Long Course Junior Olympics held in Roseville, Calif., from July 19-22.
The first day of the meet, temperatures started off in the low 60s with gusty wind. That was no challenge for Allison Lockard, age 10, who took advantage of the day and knocked 5 seconds off her 200-meter freestyle in the preliminaries in her 9-10 girls’ age group. She returned that evening for the finals, in which she took home a sixth-place medal.
By Sunday evening the temperatures reached 110 degrees in Roseville, but Lockard continued to knock off time and ended the meet with a fourth place in the 50-meter freestyle. Lockard repeated her trip to the finals each of the four nights of the meet and brought home a total of five medals. Each swimmer was capped at swimming seven events, and in many cases had to choose what events to swim out of their many qualifications. Lockard will be a sixth-grader at Incline Middle School in the fall.
Also excelling during the chilly first day of the meet was 9-year-old Rebecca Waterson, who dropped almost 2.5 seconds off her 50 butterfly time during the prelims and came back for the finals with a fourth-place swim. That swim also earned her a “AAA” time. The rest of her meet was also outstanding, including almost 8-second drops in both the 200 IM and 100 butterfly. Waterson swam to top-15 finishes in six out of her seven events. She will be a fifth-grader in the fall.
No less fantastic was Zoe Klenke’s first Junior Olympics (JO) appearance. Klenke, 10, swam personal-best times in three out of her four events, including a 3.5-second drop in her 100 backstroke. She made it a goal to qualify for the JOs and worked all spring and summer to achieve it. The hard work paid off, as Klenke also was an integral member of the two 10 and under relays TTST fielded at the meet, which both came in fifth place. She swam backstroke in the 200 medley relay and swam freestyle in the 200 free relay along with teammates Lockard and Waterson. Klenke will also be a fifth-grader in the fall.
The heat of the final day posed no issue for the calm and cool Kate Rye, 12. Rye put herself in high gear and swam an exciting 50 freestyle that earned her a “AA” time. Of her seven events, Rye excelled at her freestyle swims, taking time off her 100 and also taking off an incredible 12 seconds from her 400 freestyle. Rye also swam in two relays for TTST in the 11-12 age group. Rye will be a seventh-grader at Incline Middle School in the fall.
Next up for both Lockard and Waterson are swims at the Far Western Invitational Championship, which will be held in San Jose this month. Lockard will be swimming in six events and Waterson in one. 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. Current USA Olympic team members Natalie Coughlin and Michael Phelps still hold age-group records at this meet.
Without time to even get back to Tahoe from the Far Western meet, Lockard and Waterson board planes bound for Grand Junction, Colo. They were selected to represent Sierra Nevada Swimming in the week-long Western Zone Championship. This meet is made up of “all stars” from the West, including Hawaii and Alaska. Each swimmer is chosen by a committee to compete for his or her region — another great honor for these young swimmers.
The Truckee Tahoe Swim Team offers training and practice groups for swimmers of all ages and ability levels. Debbie Meyer, an Olympic Hall of Famer and three-time gold medalist, heads up the coaching staff. Swim with these athletes and TTST at the team’s upcoming open-water event, Hot August Chill, to be held at Donner Lake on Sunday, Aug. 19. Learn more about the event at www.truckeeswim.com.