Marion High School freshman Garrett Alleven may be younger than most of the swimmers he competes with this weekend, but he proved he belongs.
Alleven, who turned 15 Tuesday, will compete in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke and 400 individual medley at the Speedo Champions Series sectional meet beginning Friday in Jenks, Okla.
Sectional meets will be taking place in 20 locations across the country, in places as far-reaching as Buffalo, N.Y., Los Angeles, Calif., and College Station, Texas.
Garrett’s father, Gary, said most athletes competing at sectional meets are 16 or 17 years old or older. Those who advance past sectionals compete in the junior nationals.
“The main thing is, it’s just impressive to be that age and be one step below junior national cuts already,” Gary Alleven said. “You get a lot of kids at these sectional swim meets that are on college swim teams, or kids that are good enough to go to the Olympic trials.”
Garrett has been swimming with head coach Clinton Bailey and the Newton Nitros swim team since he was 9. The team practices at the Newton High School pool five or six days a week, swimming anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 yards per session.
“My coach is really friendly, and all the people in the platinum group, I like hanging out with them,” Garrett said. “They’re fun.”
The platinum group is the group of swimmers Garrett works out with. There are also silver and gold groups.
Gary said even though Garrett is currently at an average swimming height and weight, his technique helps him swim well.
“The coach said he’s got kind of a sixth sense about how to handle his body in the water,” Gary said.
Garrett just made the cutoff times to qualify for the meet, so he does not necessarily expect to place high in this year’s sectionals, but he said he feels good entering the meet.
“For the past couple weeks we’ve been tapering, which is gradually getting off of longer distances with a short amount of rest,” he said. “It helps us build up our strength since we’ve been diminishing it through the course of the weeks.”