GREENSBORO — The Greensboro Aquatic Center is no stranger to the spotlight, and once again, the world-class facility is in the midst of a busy stretch.
USA Swimming will take over the Aquatic Center for the second week in a row beginning Wednesday, this time hosting the Speedo Winter Junior Championships for the East region. Last week, top swimmers from across the country competed in the Winter Nationals with Olympic Trials slots on the line.
“It’s really exciting that USA Swimming trusts Greensboro to host such a prestigious event” as Winter Nationals, said Kevin Thornton, head coach of Swim GSA. “Then to hold it back-to-back weekends (with the Winter Junior Championships) just says a lot about the Greensboro Aquatic Center and its staff.”
Last weekend, Greensboro native and current Georgia Tech swimmer Clay Hering finished seventh in the “A” final of the 200-meter butterfly. The former Swim GSA athlete was thrilled to be back in his home pool to swim with a chance to represent the United States.
“To rub elbows with the swimmers that were at nationals, you had world-record holders, Olympic champions, world champions there, it really puts things into perspective with regards to what USA Swimming is all about,” said Hering, a former Page swimmer. “If you watch the Summer Games, the U.S. is dominant in swimming for the most part and it’s incredible to even have a remote chance to represent the U.S. on a world scale.”
This weekend, the 18-and-under swimmers will race. Swim GSA’s Reid Mikuta, who attends and swims for Page, will compete for the second weekend in a row, as he also swam in the Winter Nationals. Of note, swimming in the same pool as Mikuta during this weekend’s event will be fellow Page Pirate McKenzie Campbell of GCY Makos, who is committed to Georgia Tech, and N.C. State signee and STAR Aquatics team member Noah Henderson of Gibsonville.
“The Greensboro Aquatic Center has elevated the swimming here in the area," said Brad Herndon, swim team director and head coach of GCY Makos. “To attract these events, it really helps our kids see what they are striving for. I can remember when we didn’t have any kids competing in juniors. Now I think almost every one of the teams from the area has someone competing in juniors.”
Though this weekend’s event doesn’t allow swimmers to earn an Olympic Trials slot, you can catch a glimpse of the future as USA Swimming prepares for the Olympic Games in the next decade.
“I would say by 2024, half of the Olympic team will come from this meet and the West region Junior Championships,” Thornton said.