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Successful Pacific Swimming Junior Olympics Ends With A Bang

Successful Pacific Swimming Junior Olympics Ends With A Bang
Photo: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
​By Scott Thompson

The 2017 Pacific Swimming Junior Olympics is officially in the books. After three long days of racing, we witnessed successes, challenges, and maybe even a kid-sized taste of disappointment for some of these young swimmers. As the amazing crew of families, coaches, and volunteers from Orinda Aquatics broke down the meet, straggling coaches stuffed their stopwatches and heat sheets into their shoulder bags, and sauntered off to their other lives. A sense of life without hurry and effort -- as only can be felt after a long, championship swim meet -- swept over everybody as they filed out of the Soda Aquatic Center. As there were fewer and fewer people on deck, the big meet sensation shrank back down to that of a local community cleaning up after a summer swim meet they had just hosted.

A few of the highlights from this weekend include: Davina Huang ​(9) from the Santa Clara Swim Club winning six events and placing top three in her three other events, the CROW 13-14 girls knocking down a 1-2 punch in the 400m freestyle relay, Jerry Chu ​(12) of SCSC winning six events, and Ethan Wang (12) of PLS sweeping the distance events. The list goes on and on -- unfortunately there is not enough time or space to list all of the incredible achievements that happened at the meet, but everybody can appreciate the hard work and dedication that these swimmers demonstrated in order to even qualify for JO's.

Now that the meet is over, a lot of the swimmers will be asking what is next. The common answer from around the warm down pool on Sunday night was: "I'll be at swim practice tomorrow." These are the kids that are moving on to compete at Far Westerns in two weeks, these kids are the future of USA Swimming. What is driving these young athletes to express such an intense level of discipline at this young of an age?

In an 'off the record' chat with a well-known and very successful coach who boasts 48 years of coaching experience, he explained that the successful kids take ownership over their sport. This was exactly in line with what a few of the most successful age groupers at this meet expressed in their interviews. 'Ownership' is what is driving these kids to move along toward their goals. This path is not for everybody, but the Pacific Swimming Junior Olympics was a culmination and celebration for those kids that chose to reach higher.

Take a moment to think about what really went down this past weekend: because of the swimming community, we have eight year olds learning how to apply themselves and focus on achievement. Maybe even more impressive than that, we have thirteen year-olds dedicating themselves and experiencing positive feedback for their hard work! The families show up to cheer everybody on and the kids feel important, they feel good, and they are having a blast. JO's is an inspiring meet that kids will remember competing at for years to come. Until next time, it would serve us all well to follow the advice of nine year-old Clark Apuada from the Monterey County Swim Club. As he put it, "Always have fun and never give up on your dreams, no matter what anybody says."

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