The 2015 Speedo Central Section Region VIII began Wednesday at Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia, Mo. with some pretty astounding results for some local swimmers.
The meet continues through Saturday, but for Godfrey native Christian Aragona it's already been a life-altering experience. Aragona, a junior-to-be for the University of Missouri swim team, qualified for next year's Olympic Trials in the 50-meter freestyle on Wednesday. Aragona is a graduate of Metro East Lutheran High School.
He did it during his 100-meter freestyle preliminary race, taking a split time and officially swimming the first 50 meters in 23.06 seconds. It put him under the Olympic Trial qualifying time of 23.29 seconds. Aragona swam the entire 100 free prelim in 52.58 seconds. In the finals he went 1:02.93.
“I've been training for this meet and I was trying to qualify last night and my 100 free was my best shot to qualify in the 50,” Aragona said. “I decided to declare that I was going to go for my 50 within the 100 because I felt good and felt like I had the speed to qualify for the 50. I talked to my coach about it and that's what we decided to do.
“Qualifying was really surreal. It just culminated my career and made all those early mornings feel worth it really.”
Aragona, who began his swim career at five years old for the Tri City Tidalwaves, has been training hard for the meet, focused on gaining speed in the pool. On Wednesday he just felt like it all came together and his body felt great for the race.
“All summer I knew my best chance to qualify was in the 50, so my training this summer has been really low yardage, just working on a lot of sprints and weight lifting,” Aragona said. “I was fully rested (entering Wednesday). I stopped lifting two weeks before this meet, so this was the meet where I was going to go for my cut and then yesterday in the 100 I just felt a lot of front end speed and my stroke was feeling really good. I told my coach, 'I really think today is a great day for my stroke.' Some days you just wake up and feel great and some days you don't. I was scheduled to race my 50 on Saturday and Saturday I might wake up and not feel so good. By the end of the meet I could be tired and sore. It was good to be able to get that out of the way yesterday.”
The U.S. Olympic Swim Trials are scheduled for next year from June 26-July 3, 2016 in Omaha, Neb. Aragona becomes the second former Tidalwaves' swimmer to advance to the Olympic Trial, joining Leah Pierce who was the first to do it.
There are other local success stories at the Mizzou Aquatic Center this week, too.
Alton High School grad Maddie Monroe, a swimmer at Arkansas, finished third in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 57.01 seconds. She finished second in the prelims, clocked at 57.15 seconds. Monroe will be a senior for the Razorbacks this fall.
Current Tidalwaves' swimmers Matt Daniel, Addison Kaufmann and Davion Conley also are competing in Columbia. Daniel will be a sophomore for the Redbirds this fall, while Kaufmann, a 2015 AHS grad, is headed for Cleveland State University.
The meet continues through Saturday.