Two Barracudas head to sectionals meet |

Two Barracudas head to sectionals meet

Emily McDonald and Alina Roberts will be swimming in uncharted waters this week.

After reaching qualifying standard times, the two Sopris Barracuda swim club athletes will test their respective abilities against the best club swimmers from the Western United States starting today at the Mt. Hood (Ore.) Community College Aquatic Center.

The sectional meet’s format also poses a new challenge for both McDonald and Roberts.

Instead of competing against swimmers within age brackets, invitations to a USA Swimming-sanctioned sectional meet is based solely on time.

McDonald, 14, gets her first test today.

She will participate in the women’s 100-meter freestyle, then compete, along with Aspen’s Roberts, 17, in the 50-meter freestyle on Sunday.

Competing against each other is something the teammates don’t think about. Rather, they welcome the support and encouragement they will have for each other.

“It definitely helps having a teammate with you,” McDonald said.

Roberts agrees. “I’m glad the support is there for me,” she said.

The sectional meet brings another prize. A fast time sectional meet, according to Barracuda coach Howard Jay, could open a path to the Olympic Games.

Obtaining that goal might be a reach for both local swimmers, but they both have other goals they want to accomplish this weekend.

McDonald hopes to go under one minute in the 100 and under 28 seconds in the 50. McDonald’s fastest time in the event was the 1-minute, 1.48-second mark she achieved at the 2002 Junior Olympic meet. She also clocked her best 50 mark – 28.15 seconds – at the same meet.

Roberts, who will begin her fourth season as a member of Glenwood Springs High School’s swim team this fall, looks at the sectional meet as a springboard to the future.

“I’m going for experience,” she said. “I’d like to go on in swimming. … My goal is the Olympics. I’m looking forward to the competition and seeing what (level) the other regions in the country train at and what I have to train up to.”

“(The 50) is what I’ve trained for all year. Now I have to go after it,” Roberts said.

Both swimmers said strategy means a lot when it comes to turning in successful swims.

“The 50 is just a pretty much all-out swim,” said McDonald.. “There’s a little more strategy involved in the 100.”

“You can’t think about it,” Roberts said of her sectional event. “The 50 is so short, you’re in and it has to be there.”

Both swimmers tuned-up for sectionals with good marks at last week’s team meet in Montrose.

McDonald won the 13-14 year-old girls 100, 200 and 800 freestyle and the 400 individual medley. Roberts earned second place in the 200 backstroke and third in the 100 free in the Senior (15 and above) girls division.

Another contingent of Barracuda swimmers have their sights aimed at bringing home a Western Slope Championship medal this weekend.

About 35 members will be in Rangely for that meet, beginning Friday.

Then, the bulk of the team travels to Fort Collins the following weekend for the Colorado Junior Olympic meet.

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