Parkersburg squad makes trek to zone meet

PARKERSBURG – For one member from the YMCA of Parkersburg swim program, the beginning of the Great Lakes Zone Championship at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) will resemble a farewell tour of sorts.

For the eight other representatives, the zone meet presents an opportunity to compete against some of the best their age group has to offer.

Six boys and three girls from the YMCA of Parkersburg outfit will make the road trip for the event which begins today and continues through Sunday.

Parkersburg South senior Audrey Sweeney has qualified in a total of eight events – 400 IM, 500 free, 200 IM, 50 breast, 100 free, 200 free, 100 breast and 50 free. The 17-year-old will be taking her talents to Fairmont State University next season.

“This is my last year (for zones), and I will probably cry because I cried at the state meet last weekend, which was my last state meet,” Sweeney said. “I’m looking forward to the 400 IM and the 500 free because I have been doing really well in my distance races.

“At Fairmont State, I will probably train as a sprinter, but I want to see what I can do in these distance events.”

The Snider family will watch three siblings compete at zones with Sean (17), David (11) and Kate (13). Sean is a junior at Parkersburg High School who will compete in the 200 free, 50 back, 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly and 100 back.

“I’m the fourth seed in the 500 and seeded pretty high in the 200 – I’m hoping to do well in those two events,” Sean Snider said. “I’m really focusing on the 500 free and the 100 free because I am trying to get national cuts in those events.”

David is a sixth grader at Jackson Middle School who enjoyed a heyday at the W.Va. state meet last weekend where he won first place in seven individual events. At zones, he will race in the 200 free, 50 back, 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly and 100 back.

“I did pretty good last week and I am hoping to do as well or even better this week,” David Snider said. “I want to do well in the 200 free and the 100 backstroke – the 100 backstroke is my favorite event.”

Kate Snider is seventh grader at Jackson Middle School who will compete in the 500 free, 50 back, 100 IM, 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly and the 100 back.

“I got sick and had to take four to five weeks off from swimming this year, so I am real excited to make a big comeback and be swimming again,” Kate Snider said.

The third female in the mix is 10-year-old Grace Cox, who is a fifth grader at Vienna Elementary. Her events at zones are the 200 free, 50 back, 100 IM, 100 free, 50 fly and 50 breast.

“The first time I qualified for zones it was in a relay and the second time I did get some individual times,” Cox said. “This year, I was able to get all the individual times I could get.”

Parkersburg South freshman Garrett Fink takes a unique approach psyching himself up for his events. The 14-year-old will compete in the 100 fly, 100 free, 200 free and 50 free.

“Zones can get a little more nervewracking,” Fink said. “I usually have to psych myself up just by jumping around and getting excited.”

Also present for photo day at the Parkersburg YMCA was 15-year-old Daniel Clifford, who qualified for the Ohio state meet in the 100 butterfly as a member of Cambridge High School. His events for zones are the 100 fly, 50 back, 50 fly, 100 back and 200 fly.

“I really like being a part of this team and being with people who enjoy the sport,” Clifford said.

Rounding out the Parkersburg roster are 14-year-old Nathan Burd (100 free, 200 free, 100 back and 50 free); and 15-year-old Preston Padden (100 free, 200 free and 50 free).