Kitching To Compete At France Elite National Championships
National Championships Meet Also Serves As Qualifying For 2016 Rio Olympics
DENTON -- Fresh off earning all-conference honors at the Conference USA Championships, sophomore Claudia Kitching returns to the pool this week, competing at the France Elite National Championships in Montpellier, which serve as national championships and qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In her first season at North Texas, Kitching medaled in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke, placing second in the 200-yard breaststroke and third in the 100-yard breaststroke. She also posted seven NCAA B time standards, two in the 100-yard breaststroke and five in the 200-yard breaststroke.
"We have a range of swimmers that come here from all over the state, all over the country and all over the world, and our goal as we continue to evolve as a program is to make sure that we're accounting for every individual swimmer's goals," head coach Brendon Bray said.
"For Claudia, she has goals of representing her country and competing in the Olympics on the international level. We want to mix and blend being able to give her an opportunity to represent the university at the conference and NCAA level and also represent her country at the international level."
The Antibes, France, native is scheduled to compete in the 100-meter breaststroke on Wednesday, March 30 and the 200-meter breaststroke on Friday, April 1. The preliminaries for both events will be held in the morning with the finals for both events in the evening on both days.
The FINA A time standard, to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, is 1:07.85 in the 100-meter breaststroke and 2:26.94 in the 200-meter breaststroke. The French Federation also has additional time standards of 1:06.93 in the 100-meter breaststroke and 2:23.78 in the 200-meter breaststroke.
"It's going to be really good to go back and see what I have trained all year for," Kitching said. "It's everyone's dream to go to the Olympics, and it would mean a lot to qualify for them. It's going to be tough, especially with the times that you have to get. I want to do my personal best in both events." "To some extent, every athlete has a goal to compete in the Olympics," Bray said.
"In Claudia's case, she has been very active in her country's national championships and Olympic trials, so I knew that this was going to be a meet for her to focus on. We wanted to train her for it and give her opportunity to race and be at her best for the meet."
The France national championships will also be a family affair for Kitching. Her older sister, Carmella, will be among the competitors in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke, as well as the 50-meter breaststroke. And her younger brother, Kianu, who swims at SMU, will be competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke, as well as the 200-meter breaststroke.
"My sister and I, we have swum breaststroke for our whole swimming careers, and we have always known how to race against each other, so that's exciting to see where both of us are," Kitching said.
Bray also plans to be in attendance in support of Kitchen, as she competes at the national and international level this week. He accompanied sophomore Isabelle Morris at the 2015 Canadian Swimming Trials and also plans to accompany freshman Rebekah Bradley at the 2017 New Zealand Swimming Trials.
"I want to be there to support her and support all our athletes that are competing in their country's national championship meet," Bray said. "I want to make sure that we're blending their goals with the goal of our program. When somebody comes to North Texas, they have the ability to compete for NCAA Championships and also compete for their country's national championships. We want to be a destination for not only American student-athletes but international student-athletes as well."