FARMINGTON — A trio of young swimmers with the Four Corners Aquatic Team are heading to the biggest meets of their young careers.
Piedra Vista’s Morgan Miller and Farmington High's Trenton Grossheim earned a trip to the Western Zone Senior Championships on Aug. 2 to 6 in Clovis, Calif. And Zenon McCluhan, an incoming fifth-grader at Aztec’s Mosaic Academy, will head to the Western Zone Age Group Championships Aug. 10 to 13 in Salt Lake City.
FCAT coach Mike McCluhan said it has been about five years since a member of the team has qualified for a zone meet.
"This will be their first taste of national-level competition. There’s going to be a lot of kids who are really good at what they do," McCluhan said. "When you go to a meet in New Mexico, there are maybe a half dozen kids at the top, and then it kind of peters out, but at these national meets, it’s heat after heat after heat of really good talent and fast swimmers. The energy there is just so much more electric."
McCluhan said that Morgan Deale earned a qualifying time in the 100 breaststroke for the meet in Salt Lake City, but recently turned 11, making her too old to compete.
Miller, 15, qualified for the California meet in the 50-meter freestyle while Grossheim, 17, qualified in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and butterfly, and the 200 individual medley.
Miller admitted she in nervous heading into the meet, saying it’s intimidating to go up against competitors who have previously competed at zone meets.
With four events, Grossheim will have a full schedule during the trip to the West Coast.
"I really feel like I’m going to have to push myself a lot harder," Grossheim said. "The competition is going to be a lot tougher and I think I’ll be neck and neck with a lot of guys."
Fortunately for Grossheim, each one of his events is scheduled for a different day, which should help him conserve his strength during the trip.
Coach McCluhan said the three swimmers won’t only see a step up in the level of competition at their respective meets. They’ll also see the higher level of commitment their peers have to swimming.
"It’s very much a lifestyle kind of a sport," he said. "You don’t usually pick up swimming when you’re 16 years old, it’s usually something you do your whole life."
That’s the case for the coach's son, 10-year-old Zenon McCluhan, who grew up on the pool deck while his father coached.
The young swimmer said he doesn’t remember when he started swimming because it has always been a part of his life. He also said he feels nervous excitement as he gets ready for the meet in Salt Lake City.
"It’s not like any other meet," he said. "Usually at other meets there’s not a bunch of fast kids, but at zones, they’re all fast, fast kids.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.