Archive for Sunday, July 9, 2006

Aquahawks feed off one another to win

July 9, 2006


Emma Reaney couldn't take it easy.

Her time in the 13-14 age division of the Roger Hill Invitational would have been good enough to cruise past 95 other competitors.

It wasn't, however, enough to even pass Lawrence Aquahawks' teammate Morgan Flannigan.

With a late surge, the 13-year-old Reaney edged out Flannigan, taking the 200 freestyle title by .22 of a second. More importantly, though, the swimmer was pushed to her limits by a teammate when she wouldn't have been challenged otherwise.

"In a lot of the freestyle events, we're really close," Reaney said. "I'm glad to have her there or else I wouldn't be going so fast."

And that's the beauty of the Aquahawks, age-group coach Scott Bliss said.

With a talented roster of 13- and 14-year-old swimmers, the coach has taken pride in the fact that they have not only become better for the team - they have become better because of the team.

"They're kind of all travelling together down this road of success," Bliss said, "and seeing how good they can be."

Along with Reaney and Flannigan, Chloe Portela, Heather Clark, Elle Weber and Stacey Rudman are a few of the others that have excelled in the age group.

Bliss said many had the times as middle-schoolers now that would make them competitive at the collegiate level.

"With a child like Emma and a couple of these other girls," Bliss said, "I think it's realistic in the next five or six years for them to be able to look at where an Olympic trial cut is a realistic goal."

Reaney has already shown she can compete on a national stage. Not only did she participate in the Junior Nationals this year at Orlando, Fla., but she is also ranked nationally in three events at the 13- to 14-year-old level.

Currently, her short-course times are good for eighth in the 200 IM (2:03.83), ninth in the 400 IM (4:22.00) and 13th in the 200 breaststroke (2:19.40). Among 13-year-olds, she is

second-best in the 200 IM and third overall in the 400 IM.

Though the schedule can be rough - the Aquahawks swim two hours a day, six days a week in the summer - Reaney said her team experience had been well worth it.

"It can be hard, especially practices, but you've got to keep working," Reaney said. "It teaches you a lot of lessons like self-discipline, respect and teamwork."

Bliss said his objective was not for his swimmers to get their fastest times at 14. Instead, his goal is to prepare them so that they can have their best marks later in their careers when the results really matter.

"In today's society, we're so for the moment. We really want to get the most out of what we can at this time," Bliss said. "We're really trying to stress a little more laying the foundation for what is to come later on."

Whether it's college or thinking as high as Olympic trials, Bliss said the swimmers shouldn't shy away from those lofty ambitions.

"It sounds pretty high-in-the-sky fantastic," Bliss said, "but those dream goals have got to be there to actually realize them."


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