Emma Reaney is making a splash on the West Coast. Reaney left for Irvine, Calif. Aug. 7 to make her first visit to the golden state and more importantly, her first appearance at the Junior Nationals championship swim meet.
For the past five years the 13-year-old has been swimming strong with the Lawrence Aquahawks. And after years of hard work and commitment, and long hours in the pool, Reaney will make her Junior Nationals debut in four events.
Reaney will swim the 100-meter breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 200-meter individual medley and the 400 individual medley in the meet held at the University of California-Irvine Aug. 7-11.
Emma's mother, Ann, said Emma participated almost non-stop in preparation for the meet. She swims for two and a half hours, six days a week at the Lawrence Aquatic Center.
Ann Reaney said she found little time for much of a life outside of swimming, because she spent most of her days in the pool.
"It is a huge commitment for us and her to get up at six in the morning during the summer to go swim," Ann Reaney said. "But it's worth it because we love to watch her swim."
Reaney is committed to doing well at the meet, too. Most likely she will be one of the youngest swimmers racing in her heats, as she faces girls that are two to five years older than her. She will swim in preliminary heats in the morning in hopes of returning for the final rounds in the evening.
Reaney swam at another competitive meet through USA Swimming in the spring, but hasn't yet participated in a meet that encompasses the size or prestige of Junior Nationals.
Ann said Junior Nationals might be a step in the right direction for Emma's swimming career, as she has hopes of possibly making an appearance at the Olympics someday.
Yet Emma stays focused on the task in front of her, and that is making her mark at the Junior Nationals.
"Making it through the prelims to the finals would be nice, but we'll see," Emma Reaney said. "I just want to make good times. I'm both nervous and excited."
Reaney is the only member of the Lawrence Aquahawks to qualify for the Junior Nationals this year, so things could be a little different than in meets past where much of the team came along for the ride.
But Although the distance to the west coast is nothing to scoff at, there will be little doubt the Aquahawk will have a strong contingent of people there who will cheer for her. Her coach Scott Bliss will be traveling with her and voicing his support from the pool deck.
Reaney will also have the comfort of her family on the trip to the prestigious race.
Her parents will make the long trip with her, as will a few of her aunts and her grandmother.
The comfort of a cheering section should serve Reaney well as she takes to the pool water in California.
But after her races are finished there is another body of water that will be just as important for Reaney to jump into.
"I am really most looking forward to being in California," Reaney said. "After everything is over I can't wait to go to the beach."