After months of intense training, the moment finally arrived. We were going to Las Vegas for our Winter Age Group Championship Meet. It's a 3-day meet that's usually right before or around the same time as my birthday. The crazy anticipation was tangible in all of us in the week leading up to the meet. This was the very first out-of-state meet that I was going to attend, and I was beyond excited.
Despite being indoors, the pool felt really fast, and Thursday night when we were warming up, they were playing Christmas music through underwater speakers so that all of the swimmers could hear it.
From the moment I swam my first race, I knew that all of my hard work had finally paid off. To the surprise of the entire team, I won gold in the 100 free finals the very first night of the meet, and then found out that I broke the meet record. That was the very first time I had ever won a gold medal at such a big meet, and I was one of the youngest people in my age group. Even my hard-to-please Russian coach smiled and actually said, "Good job!" It was only the second time I had ever heard him say that to anyone in my life.
|Our Team Logo|
The highlight of the relays was the 200 Medley relay in which we got the gold.
Then, to close out the the weekend, I swam the 200 free and 50 free in finals, Sunday night, medaling in both, and getting another gold medal to add to my collection from the crazy sprint: the 50 free.
Since our team (OC Riptide Aquatics) is only a year and a half old, the performance of all of our swimmers made a splash in Vegas. We created a name for our team, and established it as a force to be reckoned with in the midst of many well-known, esteemed teams.
At the end of the meet, Katelyn and I found out we qualified for sectionals (an even higher meet) in some of our individuals, and that our relays had qualified too. All four of us were going to have to race again, within the next week.