HUNTSVILLE – The Huntsville Swim Association preps for the upcoming championship meets by hosting the HSA Tri-Green Equipment Invitational Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 at the Brahan Spring Park Indoor Natatorium.
“It serves as one of the last chances to qualify for Southeasterns and other championship meets,” said HSA Head Coach Matt Webber. “For the older athletes, it’s the last chance to fix little things and experiment with techniques. For the younger ones, they continue to shoot for best times and attempt to progress to the next level, whether it’s Southeasterns or the next level at Districts.”
The Tri-Green Equipment Invitational begins Friday, Jan. 31, at 5:30 p.m. This meet features registered USA Swimmers and teams from all over the Southeast. The 10-and-unders start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The 11-and-older athletes compete both days in the afternoon.
Ribbons are awarded for first through eighth place finishers in all 12-and-under individual events and first through third place in the relays.
The Huntsville Natatorium indoor facility at 2313 Drake Avenue offers plenty of seating for spectators. Admission is free all three days. Concessions, swim gear and souvenirs are available.
The Southeastern Championship Meet is Feb. 27 – March 2 in Nashville. USA Swimming sanctioned athletes can qualify during the short course season by obtaining strict qualifying standards in their respective age groups, beginning with the age 10-and-under time standards in each event.
For swimmers who haven’t attained Southeastern cuts, there is the Central District Championships Feb. 22-23. Designed mainly for younger swimmers, this year’s District meet switches from Tuscaloosa to the James E. Martin Aquatics Center on the Auburn University campus.
“For our HSA swimmers, we definitely treat Districts as one of our big championship meets that come up every year,” said Age Group Coach Allison Brol. “Usually the Districts feature our 8-and-under swimmers, since Southeastern qualifying starts with 10-and-under standards, but you’ll see a lot of the other age groups there, too, looking one last time to get their Southeastern qualifying times.”
Brol qualified for several southeastern meets herself during her competitive years as a swimmer for HSA. The Chicago native also coached the Piedmont Piranhas to the 2013 Rocket City Swim League title and the Huntsville High School boys swim team to the past two prep state titles.
John Smith, Zach Harting, Sarah Margaret Cimino and Mallory Underwood of HSA recently competed in the prestigious Winter Junior Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.
The current short course season is capped with several championship meets, including the NCSA Junior Nationals March 18-22 in Orlando, Fla.
Some of the swimmers from HSA already qualified for that meet in one or more events include Cimino, Underwood, Smith, Harting, Elise Maurel, Regan Weakley, Claire Munster, Isaac Devaney and Jack Calatrello. Cimino, Underwood, Smith and Harting are also qualified for the USAS Junior Nationals and USAS Nationals.
According to Webber, the entire fall and winter short course training regimen at HSA aims at the Tri-Green Invitational to springboard the swimmers into the championship meets.
“There’s a lot of pre-planning to practice,” Webber explained. “You go down to the individual week and there’s a plan. You look at an age-grouper who comes into the program, there’s a planned progression that builds on fundamentals and introduces aerobic training at the appropriate time. We also introduce speed work at the right time.
“At the senior level, we really plan yearly and there is also a quadrennial plan. The Olympics is our big show and a lot of things we do are planned on a four-year cycle.”
Here is a list of some of the HSA swimmers qualified for one or more events for the Southeastern Championship Meet: Lainey Anderson, Nicole Ansley, Isabella Barrett, Emerson Barrett, Ryan Barlow, Anne Calatrello, Madeline Cimino, Sarah Margaret Cimino, Devin Campbell, Jessica Cornelius, Ellen Haapoja, Chloe Hui, Allison Hu, Alana Janssen, Janet Martin, Elise Maurel, Claire Munster, Eboni McCarty, Kobie Melton, Mary Monk, Mary Northcutt, Tiffany Pittman, Anna Schloss, Jenny Shen, Mallory Underwood, Emily Vasquez, Regan Weakley, Ethan Amos, Chris Bedsole, William Byrd, John Calatrello, Braxton Conners, Caleb Chance, Malley Cooper, Matthew Cooper, Isaac Devaney, Jackson Eames, Jackson Graves, Macon Graves, Riley Groves, Robert Overbeek, Mark Payne, John Smith, Stone Strankman, Jared Sutphin, Gabriel Shreve, Landon Theisen, Samuel Vasquez and Ethan Wan.
-Article by Philip Black