Kinsey breaking records again at EFSL finals
Stars and Stripes February 12, 2011
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands — Unless you’re referring to red wine or aged cheese, the phrase moving up in years could carry negative implications.
Don’t tell that to 10-year-old Hallie Kinsey. She likes her new age group just fine, thank you very much.
The Sigonella Swordfish swimmer came into the annual European Forces Swim League championship meet with an idea of matching her eight gold medals and five league records from last year, when she competed in the 9-year-old category.
“I was a little more scared moving up an age group, but I feel like the races are going really well … better than I thought they would,” Kinsey said Saturday.
“Better” may be an understatement. Kinsey racked up four individual gold medals and set two league records on the first day of the two-day 2011 championships.
The good news for everyone else in Kinsey’s age bracket is that this will be her last championship tournament in Europe. Her family is preparing for a move to California.
There are 582 swimmers, ages 6 to 19, from 19 teams competing in this year’s meet, held in Eindhoven’s Nationaal Zwemcentrum de Tongelreep for the second straight year. The swimmers attend DODDS and international schools throughout Europe.
Another familiar face who moved up an age group but continued his winning ways is Gregor Heim of the SHAPE Seals.
Heim picked up three golds Saturday. His only defeat came at the hands of fellow 9-year-old Wiesbaden Wahoo Zach Searight, who dropped almost nine seconds from his best time to pass Heim down the stretch and capture the 200-meter freestyle.
“(Heim) does everything seriously, he has the technique and a big body for a nine-year-old…. He has a lot of strength,” said SHAPE coach Fabio Leomi.
Although some familiar faces again dominated the leader boards, there were still surprises as swimmers seemed to stun even their coaches with their performances.
An example of that occurred early when 9-year-old Kennedy Davis of the Wahoos was down a couple of body-lengths in the 100-meter individual medley going into the breaststroke.
Davis, seeded fourth in the event, overtook favored Kaiserslautern Kingfish Alea Oliphant down the stretch to capture the gold while knocking more than 10 seconds off her seeded time.
Other standout swimmers from opening-day competiton included Sebastian Lunak with the NATO Marlins International Swim Team, who shattered the 8-and-under league record in the 200-meter freestyle, and Dominic Scifo, 11, of the Lakenheath Barracuda, who picked up three individual gold medals and set a league mark in the 11-year-old 200-meter freestyle.
Stuttgart Piranhas coach Kara Louk said her swimmers weren’t winning as many medals as she hoped, but she was pleased with her team’s performance. “They’re dropping times in everything they are swimming,” Louk said. “It’s just everyone else is too.”
The balance on the individual front could be reflected in the team standings: Kaiserslautern could see their run of championships come to an end Sunday. The Kingfish have captured five of the last seven team titles and four in a row.
“We don’t know who will win this one, it’s gonna be close,” said Kaiserslautern coach Bob Clinton, who brought 65 swimmers that qualified for the meet, the most of any team.
The competition resumes at 9:15 a.m. Sunday.