Saint Joe Athletes At Junior Nationals

Saint Joe Athletes At Junior Nationals

Jane Lloyd, Reporter

Two Saint Joe High student athletes attended Winter Junior Nationals hosted by Speedo this past week! Sammy Sierra and Jane Lloyd flew down to Greensboro North Carolina with their club team Irish Aquatics to compete amongst top competitors from across the country. Junior Nationals is a national swim meet for those under 18 years old. Junior Nationals is one of the top events for designated highschool swimmers in the United States, falling behind US Nationals (no age requirement) and US Olympic Trials. 

Among them were Irish Aquatics teammates Lily Christensen (Penn), Ingrid Fretz (Penn), Kaia Podlin (Bremen) and Audrey Dixon (Niles). The girls composed a total of five different relays including the 800 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay, 200 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay and 200 medley relay. 

Teammate Sammy Sierra talked about his experience over the past four days. Sierra reminisced about how “cool and fun” Junior Nationals was for him. “It was definitely a surreal experience to compete amongst the top athletes in the country. There are lots of fast kids that we never get to compete against locally, but at this meet there were lots of opportunities to be with them. I’m happy with my times. Being able to swim fast at this meet helps validate all of the training we’ve done in the fall and this past summer. It’s like seeing some of my hard work pay off, which is just as rewarding as being here. Being here and swimming like this makes me feel prepared for the upcoming events like the high school state meet and swimming in college at Notre Dame! I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with our team.” 

On top of his own experience, Sierra talked more about Indiana swimming having such a presence on the National stage. While Indiana has been renowned for being one of the best swimming states alongside Florida, California and Michigan, the state produces some superstars that were at the meet. He said, “This meet can definitely put you in check with faster kids from across the nation. Watching some of these kids break old national age group records is something really cool to watch. Carmel [swim club] is insane. Winning a state meet is impressive, but winning Junior Nationals is another thing. Having a stacked national team based in Indiana is really impressive. [Also] Zionsville  [Will Modglin] is amazing. Some of these Indiana kids are showcasing on a national stage, which is awesome.” 

Sierra was referring to the Carmel Swim Club girls team winning the entire meet, sweeping all 5 relays and having several individual winners in their respective events. Additionally, freshmen swimmer (15) Alex Shackell won the highest award at the meet, taking the highpoint award for her amazing swims. This was awarded to her because of her highest scoring appearance in the meet, winning the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 400 free/medley relay and 800 freestyle relay. 

As the two swimmers take a look back on their past week in Greensboro, they both recognize how fortunate they were to compete in such a renowned meet. With club coaches and highschool coaches supporting them throughout the past couple of days, they were able to have the top notch experience they were hoping for. On top of coaches, they also had parents with them the entire week. They were grateful to all the people that have supported them to get to the stage they’ve gotten to so far, and look forward to both of their collegiate careers, respectively at the University of San Diego and Notre Dame.

It was definitely a surreal experience to compete amongst the top athletes in the country.

— Sammy Sierra