(Photos courtesy of Claire Pinson)

Junior Claire Pinson, a member of Arden Hills Swimming, competed in four events at the 2013 Speedo Winter Junior National Championships in Greensboro, N. C., Dec. 12-14.

Pinson placed 108th in the 200-yard freestyle, 57th in the 500-yard freestyle, 57th in the 200-yard butterfly and 76th in the individual medley (which consists of 100 yards of butterfly stroke, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.)

The competition attracted about 1,200 other swimmers from all over the country. The competition was so fierce that Pinson arrived a day earlier to acclimate herself to the time difference.

“The competition is one of largest of the year,” Pinson said. “It’s basically like nationals except the age limit is 18.”

During the championships, Pinson shaved a significant amount of time off each event. She cut her time down by 15.46 seconds in her favorite race, the 200-yard freestyle.

“I like it because it’s kind of a like a sprint that requires a lot of planning,” Pinson said. “You really have to plan your pacing and breathing in order to do well.”

In addition to the four individual events, Pinson also competed in four relay events with her team.The team placed 41st in the 4×100-yard medley relay, 29th in the 4×200-yard free relay, 39th in the 4×50-yard free relay, and 34th in the 4×100-yard free relay.

“I was really excited to see what we could do as a team, and we definitely delivered. Everybody’s times improved, and we placed pretty well in the top 40 for all of the races,” Pinson said.

Despite the meet being relatively well organized, swimmers were faced with poor air quality inside the Greensboro Aquatic Center (GAC) where the events were held.

“Everyone was getting an awful cough, which led to this popular Hashtag on Twitter called the #GAChack,” Pinson said.

“It didn’t really affect my swimming but I definitely still have the GAC hack.”

Performing well in Junior Nationals qualified Pinson for a meet in Japan, although she will probably not attend it, she said, because of the school time she’d miss.

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