By Phil Haddad
For 21st Century Media
The Boyertown Mako Sharks had 13 swimmers participating at the Junior Olympic Swim Meet in State College, Pennsylvania held at Penn State University on July 25-July 28. Going to the event from the girls’ team were, Brooke Bollinger, Aimee Garcia (Daniel Boone), Allison Kurlak, Julianna Glasner, Catherine Coates and Cara Magill of Boyertown and Kara Prisk (Antitiam) On the boys’ side, going are Andrew Armbruster (Brandywine Heights), Matthew Feryo (Exeter), Ridge Hagar (Quakertown), Patrick Lance, Alexander Longacre, Rhett Watts and Joshua Boyer all from Boyertown.
Rhett competed in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 800 free, 1500 free 100 back and the 200 back. Pat entered in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 400 free, 800 free 1,500 free, 100 fly and the 100 back. Aimee participated in the 100 free, 200 free, 400 free, 400 I.M., 1500 free, 50 breast and the 100 fly. Cara was in the 100 free, 200 free, 800 free, 100 back and the 200 back.
All were excited about going to JO’s and were looking to make a big splash at the event. Magill has been there before, but it never gets old. She knows that it’s still a big honor for her.
“It’s a big accomplishment to get there,” said Magill. “I feel so proud of myself and I’m like ‘wow’. I’m excited. I love J0’s and I love the meet.”
“It’s always going to be a thrill,” said Lance before he went.. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
To be make the Junior Olympics, it takes a lot of hard work, and the will train hard. You’ve got to find the motivation in yourself in order to succeed in this sport. Magill gets motivation from other people.
“My friends and family are what motivate me,” said Magill. “They want you to get that time to make it to JO’s. It’s motivation and support. It’s that kind of support that helps you get there.”
“You have to have a qualifying time to qualify for JO’s, but if you want to be on top of JO’s, you have to be faster than that,” said Watts. “You have to swim the best that you can and be as perfect as possible.”
There were some events that Garica, who’s only 12, was surprised that she had qualifying times to make the JOs. The biggest surprise for her was making the 100 free because she’s not really sprinter. She knew that she could make it in the 400 free and the 100 back stroke, but the free was a bonus.
Going into the meet, not everybody was nervous, especially since most of them have been there before and they know what to expect. Magill said last week that once she hits the block, that’s when she’ll be very nervous.
“I don’t get nervous, but once I hit the blocks I’ll be nervous like Cara is,” said Garica.
“I’ll always be nervous, especially for big events,” said Lance. “You never know who you’re going up against. You don’t know what their strong point is and I have to get rid of that fear. My dad said that once you hit the blocks, clear your mind out and prepare yourself for the race. Once you hit that water, don’t hold anything back. Don’t fear anyone.”
“I really don’t get nervous because I’ve been there three or four times,” said Watts. “I know what it takes to be on top of the ranks. If you’re not nervous, you don’t fear what’s coming. You take what you can into your swim.”
They all know that the competition in their age group will be tough, and know that they have to try their best. “The times are not very easy times, and you sort of know what to expect,” said Lance. “There are always going to be people who are faster than the times listed.”
Of the swimmers that were interviewed, they all expected to do well in each of their races at JO’s. Magill has done well in previous years at JO’s and this year is no exception.
“I expect to do well because I feel that I’ve been swimming faster in practice,” said Garica. “I’ve been training hard in practice and if you train hard in practice, you’ll do well in meets.”
The training that they have put in to prepare for this event isn’t easy. Few people have the dedication it takes to make it to this level of swimming competition. Lance knows that to be able to compete in an event like this, you have to train hard and practice hard as well.
“You gotta want it to make it,” said Lance. “You have to push yourself. If you do that, you’re going to have a great outcome.”