Written by Chelsea Abbott
I’m standing behind the blocks. Knees are shaking.
Readjusting my cap and goggles for probably the hundredth time, I stare up at the pool that in just a few seconds I will be racing in.
In my mind I am running through the past four months of vigorous training that I’ve endured. Thinking about every practice that I attended at five in the morning. Remembering all of the difficult sets I swam at night.
I know that I am ready to race.
The whistle blows and the official’s voice sounds over the speakers. I step up onto the block and prepare myself for one of the most important races of my entire life.
The NCSA Junior National Championship meet was held Tuesday March 20th through Saturday March 24th in Orlando, Florida.
My team, Birmingham Bloomfield Atlantis, was one of over 230 teams competing in the championships.
Each morning hundreds of athletes, all under the age of 18, would compete for the esteemed 32 places that were reserved for the top swimmers of each event. The top 32 places qualified to swim long course and have a chance to race during the night session to qualify for the 2012 Olympic trials.
Each night the pool was switched from a 20 plus lane short course yards pool into an eight lane 50 meter long course pool. The races changed from morning to night. It was a whole different game. In every event that was swam at night there would be new Olympic trial cuts reached. The idea that I was swimming in a meet with possible Olympians was astounding.
The second we stepped onto the deck of the 50 meter eight lane natatorium, I knew that this meet was more important than any I had ever attended. The pool was packed tight with officials, coaches and hundreds of athletes. The announcer was calling off names of kids who had just qualified for Olympic trials. This was the real deal.
To qualify for the NCSA junior national meet you have to have gone faster than a certain time standard. These qualifying times are fast, very fast, and very difficult to achieve.
The girls on my team swam great. Two of the girls on my team, Annie Lazor and Natalie Pierce, had been to this meet before, but for the rest of us, this was a completely new experience.
Lazor, a senior at Groves High School, placed first in the 200 breaststroke and third in the 100 breaststroke. Lazor, who will be swimming at Ohio State University next year, qualified for the Olympic trials in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.
Natalie Pierce, a sophomore at Seaholm, qualified for finals in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes. Placing 11th in the 50 breaststroke and 31st in the 100, Pierce had her best year yet at the NCSA championship.
Emily Parsons, a senior at Seaholm High School swam the 50 and the 100 free at the NCSA national championships. Macy Moore, a sophomore at West Bloomfield qualified to swim the 50 and 100 freestyle along with the 100 backstroke. Both girls went their best times in the events that they swam. Moore placed 105th out of over 300 swimmers in the 50 freestyle with Parsons only .3 seconds behind her placing in a three way tie for 165th.
Personally, I swam the 400 IM, 200 IM, and the 500 freestyle at the Junior National Championships, ranking 64th in my 400 IM. Swimming at this fast of a meet had been my goal for the past three years. Finally swimming at the NCSA junior national meet, with a team that I love, was a fantastic way to end my high school swimming career.