Care for a very long dip in the pool?
Stars and Stripes November 26, 2022
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.
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.”
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.”