Swimming straight into national competition

Juniors James Gildart and Braxton Flowers swam to success in December at the 2013 Winter Junior National Championship in North Carolina.

The WJNC is a competition in which swimmers from around the country compete in various swim events in preparation for Olympic trials.The competition took place on Dec. 12-14 at The Greensboro Aquatic Center, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Gildart said a lot of college swim coaches go to the WJNC to watch and recruit members.

“I think it’s definitely an important meet for swimmers to compete in,” he said.

When Flowers found out he qualified, he increased is practice schedule, since he received the news only a week before the event.

“I had no idea I was going to go to nationals, but when I found out I was really happy about it,” Flowers said.

Gildart said he already had the qualifying times for the meet, he just needed to prepare for it.

“I was pretty happy and excited for the competition when I found out I could compete,” Gildart said.

Gildart qualified for the 200m individual medley, 200m breaststroke, and the 100m breaststroke. He also swam the 400m individual medley and 200m freestyle at the time trials.

“When I made the cuts, there were certain time standards that I had to make in order to qualify,” Gildart said.

Flowers swam the 100 backstroke at the meet.

“[The results were] not too good, but that’s okay, I didn’t even expect to go,” Braxton said.

Gildart said the results of his swim events were satisfying.

“For me [they weren’t] bad, I did not [make] finals, but there was a bunch of people going stupid fast times, Olympic trial stuff,” Gildart said.

Flowers competed in numerous competitions ever since he began swimming at the age of nine.

“Once I started swimming, that’s the one sport I competed in,” he said.

Flowers said his grandpa got him into swimming at a young age, but he doesn’t intend to keep swimming.

“I want to continue with it into college, but not past that,” he said.

Gildart started competitive swimming at the age of six, and learned how to swim a few years before.

“I’ve almost always loved swimming,” he said. “It started out with me learning to swim, then I started to like it more and more.”

Gildart said he also participated in taekwondo at a young age.

“I got black belt, but it was either swimming or taekwondo,” he said. “So I decided to do swimming,”

Gildart competed in dozens of competitions over the years, and received many awards for them.

“I can’t remember how many awards I’ve won, and there are so many competitions that I can’t even count them,” he said.

Gildart plans to continue with swimming past college.

“I would like to try to make some trial cuts, the ultimate goal is to make it to the Olympics, but thats always unpredictable,” Gildart said.

Gildart said the defining moment in his swim career took place last December.

“The biggest achievement for me, personally, was making the Junior National cuts,” he said.