Swimming National Team Excels In Atlanta
Vaisse Picks Up Another Victory, Kitching Clocks Season-Best Time
ATLANTA - The North Texas swimming National Team completed its first ever USA Winter Nationals at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of Georgia Tech Saturday, sending two athletes to the finals in the last day of competition.
"This weekend at Winter Nationals was a great showing for the University of North Texas," interim head coach Brittany Roth said. "To have the opportunity to race Olympians and to swim with Olympic hopefuls is the level of racing we seek.
"Each person who has qualified for this event has Olympic aspirations, and every time we can swim in these environments, we grow and learn. It could be easy to become overwhelmed with the level of competition, but the way our Mean Green swimmers handled themselves through prelims and getting themselves in the position to swim in the finals is a true testament to their tenacity and their refusal to back down."
North Texas has embraced the underdog mentality this season, and though this meet was unofficial, the Mean Green once again found themselves rising to the occasion at Winter Nationals, competing with some of the best swimmers in the world.
Claudia Kitching shined on Saturday, advancing to the finals with a time of 2:16.32 in the 200 breaststroke prelims. Kitching bested her prelims time by nearly three seconds in the finals, finishing 19th with a time of 2:13.39, her fastest of the season.
"Claudia swam a beautiful 200 breaststroke in her final heat," Roth explained. "She was able to finish her race better than she has all year. Watching her poise and her confidence grow in her swimming is what makes racing great. She knows her strengths in her swimming, and she's getting to the point of her career where she now trusts her strengths, and she's confident in her planning."
Emmabeth Jensen, the school's 100 freestyle record holder, swam a time of 50.81 in the preliminary round, punching her ticket to the finals. Jensen finished 23rd, clocking a time of 50.99 in the finals.
"Emmabeth went all out in her final swim," Roth said. "This weekend we learned that we needed to make an adjustment in her racing strategy, and I'm excited to see what the future will bring for her."
On Friday, Sarah Vaisse made North Texas history, becoming the first swimmer to win a Winter Nationals finals heat as a member of the Mean Green. Vaisse (1:01.94) secured a first-place finish in the C heat of the 100 breaststroke. The junior qualified for the finals with a time of 1:02.50 in the prelims.
"Sarah final's win was one of the highlights of the meet," Roth added. "
Kitching's time of 1:03.68 in the 100 breaststroke prelims and Jensen's 56.28 in the 100 butterfly prelims did not make the cut in the stiff field of competition.
Jowita Sienczyk (200 IM) and Jensen (50 free) swam in the prelims of their respective event on Thursday, falling just short of advancing to the finals. Sienczyk finished with a time of 2:06.58, while Jensen clocked a time of 23.65.
"Jowita is only a freshman and for her to be here, and be able to learn and grow from this is exciting."
Overall, the USA Winter Nationals was a success for North Texas and positioned the team to excel heading into 2017.
"This weekend was a great for Mean Green swimming and diving," Roth added. "We plan to take this momentum and look forward to the future as we head into the championship portion of our season."
Up Next for North Texas
North Texas will return to action on Saturday, Dec. 17, for the Christmas Invitational in San Antonio.