Local swimmer Jenna Smith setting high goals, reaching new marks
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs eighth-grader Jenna Smith was excited to attend the state swimming meet in Grand Junction on July 22, but the veteran swimmer couldn’t help feeling a little anxious.
“I get nervous before every meet, but it’s a good nervous.” Smith said. “I was excited going into the state meet, because I just aged up, and I wanted to see how I would do in an older division.”
The 13-year-old competed in seven individual events and several relays, and despite being on the younger side of her division, she more than held her own in a field of talented swimmers.
She won the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 1 minute, 8.11 seconds, her best finish in a weekend filled with top-10 results.
“It was a big challenge,” she said of the meet. “I need to focus mentally and physically, especially on the last day.”
The three-day meet was a busy one for the local swimmer, who competed not only in the 100-meter butterfly, but also in the 50-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle events. She also swam in the 200-meter and 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley events.
Through the weekend, she added a second-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle (1:00.69) and a third-place finish in the 100-meter backstroke (1:10.00) to her list of accomplishments. She was also eighth in the 200-meter individual medley (2:35.24), ninth in the 200-meter freestyle (2:14.38) and 50-meter freestyle (28.20) and 10th in the 200-meter backstroke (2:34.08).
Despite placing ninth, Smith posted the third-fastest time in the 50-meter freestyle event after struggling a bit in the preliminary round and failing to make the “A” final. She posted a fast time of slightly more than 28 seconds in the ‘B” finals, which included swimmers who had qualified nine through 18.
However, the best a swimmer could place in the “B” final was ninth, even if his or her time was better than the swimmers who qualified in the top 8 for the “A” final.
“I have been to the state meet the last four years in a row,” Smith said. “I would think this was my best.”
This is one of the biggest meets of the summer for the young swimmer, but only one of several upcoming events that could help her reach a long list of ambitious goals, including competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I really want to make it to the Olympic trials,” Smith said. “I am excited to watch the Olympics on television before I go to my next big event. It’s my dream to compete at the Olympic Games.”
Her coach, Patti Worsley — whose son, Blake, represented Canada in the 2012 Olympic Games in London — said she feels the sky is the limit for Smith.
“She’s very determined,” Worsley said. “When she sets a goal, she is determined to get there. She is very driven when she has a goal in her mind. She has got huge potential, and she works hard all the time — everything in her life revolves around swimming.”
In the past five years, Smith has continued to raise the bar. She is currently preparing to compete in the Western Zone Age Group Championships meet in Kerns, Utah, this week. Opening ceremonies will take place Aug. 9, with events scheduled throughout the week.
Smith has also already made the qualifying cut for five events at the Speedo Sectional Swim meet, set for March in Dallas. She is slated to swim the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events, the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke and the 200-meter individual medley. She is also less than a second off making the event in the 100-meter butterfly.
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The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning for much of the West Slope ahead of a major weather system expected in the area starting Thursday.