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Eliza Furqueron of the Kaiserslautern Kingfish nears the halfway point of the breast stroke portion of a girls 400-meter individual medley heat on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Eliza Furqueron of the Kaiserslautern Kingfish nears the halfway point of the breast stroke portion of a girls 400-meter individual medley heat on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Check out the top performers in each bracket from Saturday.

LIGNANO SABBIADORO, Italy – By the way Shannon Buckley attacks the water when she races, one might think that she got her start in the pool by playing water polo.

Or maybe she took some kind of martial art before starting her swimming career.

It was actually synchronized swimming – sort of the polar opposite of the direction the 15-year-old is heading: open-water swimming.

“I’m not supposed to swim like that,” Buckley admitted with a smile after setting a new record in the 15-16-year-old age bracket in the girls 800-meter freestyle in 9 minutes, 37.28 seconds. “But that’s the way I learned and that’s what I’m comfortable with.”

Buckley lives and Sicily and does much of her training with an Italian team. She’s a member of the Naples Tiger Sharks from the days her father was stationed across the Messina Strait. She attends an Italian high school and one day hopes to swim in college in the States.

But her biggest love right now is open-water swimming, where competitors swim long distances in the ocean. She hopes to compete in a 25-kilometer event in the not-so-distant future.

She demonstrated her endurance later in the day, coming back from a deficit in the breast stroke during the freestyle portion to capture her heat – and age-bracket – in the girls 400-meter individual medley in a time of 5:32.38.

Shannon Buckley of the Naples Tiger Sharks creates her own waves while setting a new record for 15-16-year-olds in the girls 800-meter freestyle Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Shannon Buckley of the Naples Tiger Sharks creates her own waves while setting a new record for 15-16-year-olds in the girls 800-meter freestyle Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Kaiserslautern’s Jacob Furqueron was a record-breaker in the pool on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Kaiserslautern’s Jacob Furqueron was a record-breaker in the pool on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Swimmers dive into the pool to start an 800-meter freestyle heat at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Swimmers dive into the pool to start an 800-meter freestyle heat at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Mason Koeth, a senior at Wiesbaden High and member of the Wiesbaden Wahoos, won the boys 17-19 800-meter freestyle event Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Mason Koeth, a senior at Wiesbaden High and member of the Wiesbaden Wahoos, won the boys 17-19 800-meter freestyle event Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella parent Ashlee Fowler shows her swimmer how many laps there are left in an 800-meter freestyle race at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Sigonella parent Ashlee Fowler shows her swimmer how many laps there are left in an 800-meter freestyle race at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Like many of those swimming in freestyle events Saturday, Rota’s Joyah Rawles kept her head under the water as much as possible at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Like many of those swimming in freestyle events Saturday, Rota’s Joyah Rawles kept her head under the water as much as possible at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein sophomore Sofia Denham, a member of the Kaiserslautern Kingfish, competes in her first European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships event on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.

Ramstein sophomore Sofia Denham, a member of the Kaiserslautern Kingfish, competes in her first European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships event on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

She wasn’t the only two-time winner on the first day of the two-day event.

Jacob Furqueron of the Kaiserslautern Kingfish broke two records while winning both his events. The 12-year-old won his age bracket in the boys 800-meter freestyle in 9:57.62 and was also first in the 400 IM in 5:30.44.

Linda Supe of the SHAPE Seals, Anna Heaphy, Jason Dalope and Benjamin Heath of the Kingfish, Jake Jennings (unattached from Bahrain) and Wiesbaden Wahoo Mason Koeth all won twice Saturday.

Koeth, a Wiesbaden High senior, was dominant in the boys 17-19 events, winning by almost 86 seconds in the 800 and more than 54 seconds in the 400 IM – despite not feeling his best.

Like many of those competing Saturday, he also competes for a local national team and had back-to-back long weekends of competition.

He said he tried all kinds of sports growing up.

“The one I stuck with is swimming,” he said. “It seems like I’ve been doing it forever.”

Boys dive into the pool during an 800-meter freestyle heat at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Boys dive into the pool during an 800-meter freestyle heat at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Anniston Coleman of the Stuttgart Piranhas finished second in her age group in the girls 800-meter freestyle at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes

Anniston Coleman of the Stuttgart Piranhas finished second in her age group in the girls 800-meter freestyle at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes ()

Anna Heaphy of the Kaiserslautern Kingfish won her age group in the girls 800-meter freestyle Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships.

Anna Heaphy of the Kaiserslautern Kingfish won her age group in the girls 800-meter freestyle Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Carson Kester of the Vicenza Mako Sharks takes a breath while completing the freestyle portion of a heat in the girls 400 individual medley race on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Carson Kester of the Vicenza Mako Sharks takes a breath while completing the freestyle portion of a heat in the girls 400 individual medley race on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Eli Pancoast of the Stuttgart Piranhas swims the back stroke portion of a boys 400-meter individual medley heat Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Eli Pancoast of the Stuttgart Piranhas swims the back stroke portion of a boys 400-meter individual medley heat Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Shannon Buckley of the Naples Tiger Sharks followed a record-breaking performance earlier in the day by winning her age bracket in the girls 400-meter individual medley on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Shannon Buckley of the Naples Tiger Sharks followed a record-breaking performance earlier in the day by winning her age bracket in the girls 400-meter individual medley on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden’s Mason Koeth wins his second age-bracket title of the day on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in a boys 400-meter individual heat at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

Wiesbaden’s Mason Koeth wins his second age-bracket title of the day on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in a boys 400-meter individual heat at the European Forces Swim League Long Distance Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Others at the meet are much newer to the sport.

Sofia Dunham, a sophomore at Ramstein, hasn’t given up on soccer. But she’s really into swimming and shaved double-digit seconds off her personal best at her first championship meet.

“I like it because I have to rely on myself,” she said. “For good and bad.”

10-year-old Joshua Moore is a fifth-grader at Aviano Elementary. He’s looking forward to his first championship race on Sunday. And he had a pretty straightforward answer on why he’s joined the sport: “I just like it and I think I’m pretty good at it.”

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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