PILOT MOUNTAIN - Several youth swimmers have qualified to compete in the Junior Olympics state meet this weekend.
Members of the North Piedmont Aquatic Club (PAC), based in Pilot Mountain, will take part in the event — technically known as the N.C. Long Course Age Group Championships — from Friday to Sunday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
“I’m very excited to have a growing number of kids represent PAC this year,” said Coach Leah Tunstall.
“Not only do we have more individual swimmers making events, we also have relays competing in two age groups,”
Tunstall said. “As the qualifying times continue to get faster, the accomplishment is that much greater.”
The swimmers should have plenty of confidence, coming off a stellar showing in the Powerade State Games two weeks ago. PAC tallied 11 gold medals and 21 total medals at the meet in Charlotte.
“The genuine dedication and hard work is evident in all of these young athletes,” said Tunstall.
There are two swim seasons throughout the year, explained Tunstall. The short-course season is from September to March. It gets its name from how meets are held in pools 25 yards long, such as PAC’s home pool at the Armfield Civic Center.
The long-course season is April to August and takes place in 50-meter pools.
There are no pools in Surry County with 50-meter swim lanes, noted Tunstall.
Practicing in the smaller pool isn’t exactly equivalent, either. Two laps in the bigger pool is 100 meters, which is 28 feet more than 100 yards
Otherwise, there really isn’t much difference in the meets, the coach said. There are no 25-yard races, and there is no 100-yard individual medley, since that requires changing strokes every 25 yards.
As for the upcoming championship, individual qualifiers for the 9-10 year old age division include Abby Bruce, who will compete in the 50 meter freestyle along with Hadly Tucker who has qualified for the 50 meter freestyle, 50 and 100 meter backstroke, as well as the 50 and 100 meter breaststroke.
In the 11-12 year old age division, Sydney Beck will compete in the 50 and 100 meter backstroke with Mikki Nunn qualifying to swim the 50, 100, and 200 meter breaststroke. Julie Hicks will swim in the 100 and 200 meter freestyle, 50 and 100 backstroke, and the 200 meter individual medley. Avery Tucker will be competing in the 50 meter freestyle, 50 meter butterfly, 50 and 100 meter backstroke along with both the 50 and 100 meter breaststroke.
For the 13-14 year old division, Ashley Hicks will be competing in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle, 100 and 200 meter backstroke along with the 100 meter butterfly.
The team will take several relay squads to compete as well. In the 9-10 year old division, Abby Bruce, Carly Bullington, Olivia Marion, and Hadly Tucker will represent PAC in the 200 meter freestyle relay and 200 meter medley relay.
In the 11-12 year old age division, Sydney Beck, Julie Hicks, Mikki Nunn, and Avery Tucker will participate in the 200 and 400 meter freestyle relay as well as the 400 meter medley relay.
“We are a very small team and to be able to take 25 percent of your team to these championships is a big deal,” said Tunstall. “The opportunity to obtain goals that you have worked towards is priceless.”
East Surry rising sophomore Kelsey Tunstall cracked the top-10 in three different events at the state 1A/2A championship over the winter. However, she has aged out of this under-14 event. Instead, the coach’s daughter will travel to Charlotte July 18-21 to compete in the N.C. Senior Long Course Championship.
Tunstall will compete in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke, 100 meter breaststroke, 100 meter butterfly and both the 200 and 400 meter individual medley. The meet is hosted by the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center.