By Jeff Nations
STRASBURG -- Madison Scott has tons of motivation to get in the water this weekend for the Eastern Zone Southern Region Sectional Meet at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.
For Scott, a junior at Skyline High School, this week's meet is the capstone on the only swimming season she has for the winter. Since Skyline doesn't offer the sport, Scott focuses her time on competing for Strasburg-based Valley Swim Team Gators during the USA Swimming-sanctioned short-course season.
Scott is one of three Gators to qualify for the sectionals, which opened on Thursday and runs through Saturday. Sherando's Kelsey Dingman qualified in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, and James Wood's Brian Baker will swim in the 100 free and 100 breaststroke.
Scott will swim in the 100 and 200 butterfly, and as the only one of the three who will be back for another year of high school next year, this meet is especially important. In the 100 butterfly, Scott is just 3/10ths of a second off qualifying for the Junior National meet held in Clearwater, Fla. That meet is being held this week, meaning Scott would need to wait until next year to swim in it if she scores a qualifying time.
"She swam it last weekend, and she was really disappointed that she didn't get the cut but she was so close," said Annie Bosacco, a coach for the Gators. "So that's the goal for this meet, to just kind of take a step back and focus on what she's doing and what she needs to do to get that cut."
This is Scott's third straight trip to the sectional meet, part of the 2014 Speedo Championship Series.
"It's definitely very competitive," Scott said. "It's one of the fastest meets that we have in Virginia."
Baker is looking forward to that level of competition after qualifying for this year's meet for the first time. He's not sure who he'll face, but he's looking forward to posting his fastest times ever in both events he'll swim.
"It's a very large meet and it's pretty important since I've never made it this far," Baker said. "That's very exciting. It's a whole new level of competition. There's going to be tons of kids that I don't know from all across the East Coast."
Bosacco, a former standout swimmer at Clarke County High School, remembers getting her junior national cut at this same meet. Since it was her senior year, Bosacco chose not to come back the following year to compete at the junior nationals. To get even this far is quite an accomplishment, Bosacco said.
"It's pretty difficult," Bosacco said. "It generally takes a certain level of discipline and dedication to get where they're going. I think that definitely shows them not only as swimmers, but leaders on the team who've put in the work and gotten where they wanted to go."
Scott is aiming for that state cut, then looking forward to the summer's long-course season. As for high school swimming, the talented junior can only hope to get an opportunity next year.
"I don't have a high school swim team," Scott said. "It's kind of a bad thing because I want people in my county to swim and see the sport and enjoy it. I'm trying to get a swim team started at my high school.
We'll see what happens."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>