Olympic Champion Ledecky headlines list of elite swimmers
Three of nation’s top five swim teams compete in Senior Invitational at NOVA of Virginia Aquatics
November 12, 2012 - 9:30 am · By
g class=”size-medium wp-image-8127″ title=”Halloween2012 065″ src=”http://www.downtownshortpump.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Halloween2012-065-300×225.jpg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”225″ /> Champion swimmers Blair Carnes and Katie Ledecky, Saturday, Nov. 10, at the NOVA Senior Invitational.
NOVA of Virginia Aquatics (NOVA) hosted its Fall Senior Invitational at the recently renovated NOVA Aquatic Center at 12207 Gayton Road, Richmond,VA, this weekend, Friday, November 9 – Sunday, November 11.
As it does every year, this year’s swimming competition featured NOVA’s elite swimmers up against Nation’s Capital Swim Club, (NCAP, formerly Curl – Burke Swim Club). The field was more competitive this year with the addition of Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club (RMSC) and Richmond-area club VACS. NOVA, NCAP and RMSC swim clubs are ranked among the top five largest and most competitive in the United States by USA Swimming. All three clubs have won the NCSA Junior National Swimming Championships in the last five years.
Team competition remains the primary purpose of the meet, but this year’s event featured three marquee swimmers: NOVA’s own Blair Carnes, a member of USA Swimming’s Junior National Team; RMSC’s Swimming World Male High School Swimmer of the Year Jack Conger, and NCAP’s 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky. Carnes, a senior at The Steward School in Richmond and ranked as the number one female recruit in Virginia by collegeswimming.com, recently verbally acknowledged her intent to swim at The University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 2013. Carnes is a breaststroke specialist ranked number one in Virginia Swimming in the 100- and 200-yard events.
In addition to receiving the Swimming World Magazine accolade this year, Jack Conger, 17, of Rockville, MD, was the gold medalist in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events at the 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Meet in Honolulu, Hawaii in August. His gold medal winning time of 54.07 seconds in the 100-meter event broke the 17-18 U.S. national age group record previously established by Olympic champion Aaron Piersol in 2002. Conger recently announced his intent to swim at The University of Texas in Austin next fall.
Ledecky, 15, from Bethesda, MD, surprised the swimming world after swimming to a gold medal performance in a time of 8:14.63 in the 800-meter freestyle event in the Olympic finals, breaking the American record held by Janet Evans for 23 years. Her performance in the London final was the second fastest 800-meter women’s freestyle time ever.
Ledecky was in fine form for the meet, but this down-to-earth teenager takes her talent all in stride and hasn’t lost sight of what it took to get where she is or what it will take to stay there. When asked how a meet like the NOVA Invitational compares to competing in the Olympics, Ledecky says, “Being at a meet like this is just as fun. It’s great to be here, and it’s a good way to see where I am with my training. It’s great to be here with my team.”
When asked what has changed the most since winning an Olympic gold medal, Ledecky says, “Not much, really. I’m still training hard in the pool and at school.”
All three swimmers competed in an early short course season swimming competition, showcasing some of the region’s top high school and middle school swimming athletes. “Over the years, we have had some great swimmers entered in our Fall Classic, but this year is certainly special,” said Geoff Brown, head coach at NOVA. “The most exciting part is that this is a good test for the kids to see where they stand before their next big meets.” There are major competitions coming up in December, early spring (around March or April), and in the summer. The next competition in December will be held at NCAP.
Brown says it’s an “intense, exhausting” weekend, but it’s exhilarating too. They limit the number of swimmers in this meet to only the very top swimmers from each team in order to keep the event from becoming more exhausting than it already is.
Swimming competitively at this level takes a lot of dedication. Most of these athletes train for about 20 hours a week between swimming and weight training, in addition to keeping up with their school work. “These kids have such bright futures,” says Brown. “Swimming can really launch them to bigger and better things. It’s a doorknocker for these big universities.” And it’s true—NOVA alumni have attended some well-known prestigious schools, including Yale.
“This event is a fantastic way to showcase Richmond and particularly the Short Pump area,” continues Brown. “I think people are surprised sometimes that we can hold such big events like these that attract such amazing talent and that when they get here, they find a busy, bustling city. So, it’s good for the kids and it’s good for the area.”
NOVA is a full-service swim club that meets the needs of every level of swimmer, from lessons to Masters. It is ranked 5th in the nation for overall club performance for swimming competition and organization by USA Swimming and has received the distinctive Gold Medal Club Award, given to fewer than 40 clubs nationwide.
Led by head coach Geoff Brown, USA Swimming’s 2012 Developmental Coach of the Year, NOVA’s coaching staff has led its team to multiple NCSA Junior National Swimming Championships and won both Virginia Swimming State Age Group Championship and Senior Championship for 13 years consecutively. As a comprehensive aquatics center, NOVA has the region’s leading youth swim lessons program as well as the top Master’s swimming program inVirginia.
For more information about NOVA, please visit www.NOVASwim.org or call 804-754-3401.