- Video Gallery
Timing Right For HSA's Biggest Swim Meet
By P.M. Black
The timing is perfect for the SportsMED Groundhog Invitational hosted by the Huntsville Swim Association (HSA) Feb. 1-3 at the Brahan Spring Park Indoor Natatorium.
"It's typically our biggest meet of the year," said HSA Head Coach Matt Webber. "Timing for the Groundhog is big for swimmers trying to qualify for the Southeastern Championships. This meet sort of serves as one of the last chances for them to qualify and it attracts so many of the top athletes. Coming out of Christmas training, teams are really sharpening for their championship meets. You get a lot of fast swimming here."
The Southeastern Championship Meet is Feb. 21-24 in Nashville. Athletes can qualify during the short course season by obtaining strict qualifying standards in their respective age groups, beginning with age 10-and-under time standards in each event.
For swimmers who don't attain Southeastern cuts, there's the Central District Championships Feb. 16-17 in Tuscaloosa. Designed mainly for younger swimmers, this meet is at the University of Alabama Aquatic Center.
"Districts for our age 8-and-under swimmers and those without Southeastern cuts, and the Southeastern meet itself, these are our championship meets coming up," explained Age Group Coach Colette Migliozzi. "Southeasterns is kind of the next stepping stone after Districts, before they go on to the Junior Nationals and then Olympic Trials."
The HSA squad is already on pace for a record number of swimmers qualified for championship meets. Coming into 2013, there were 56 HSA athletes already qualified for the Southeastern Championship Meet, 14 qualified for Senior Sectionals, 18 qualified for Age Group Sectionals and six swimmers with times good enough to swim at the NCSA Junior Nationals March 12-16 in Orlando.
According to Webber, the entire fall and winter short course training regimen aims at Groundhog Invitational to springboard the swimmers into the championship meets. With the positive response to the intensity of recent practices, the HSA coaches expect many more talented swimmers to qualify for the Southeastern Championships.
The SportsMED Groundhog Invitational begins on Friday, Feb. 1, at 5:30 p.m. for registered USA Swimmers from all over the Southeast. The 10-and-unders begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The 11-and-older athletes swim both days in the afternoon.
Ribbons will be awarded to the first through eighth place finishers in all 12-and-under individual events, and first through third place in the relays. Heat winner ribbons will also be awarded for 12-and-under individual events.
Concessions, swim gear and souvenirs are available in the lobby for the public. The Huntsville Natatorium indoor facility offers plenty of seating for spectators and is located at 2313 Drake Avenue. Admission for event viewing is free.
Some of the younger HSA swimmers making recent Southeastern time standards include: Maddie Byrd, Emily Eichstaedt, Kimberly Harrison, Rebekah Hamilton, Elizabeth Kowalczyk, Tess Lindow, Anna Shepherd, Abigail Weir, Chris Bedsole, Will Bryd, Hayden Carroll, Jackson Eames, Jackson Hardy, Jack Mauer, Nick Stokes and David Spuhl. Of these 16 talented swimmers, 12 are first-time qualifiers.