Grim view of AAU Junior Olympics all positive

Monday, August 2, 2004
All wet, and proud of it -- Berryville's Tori Grim took up a big chunk of a table in order to spread her medals and ribbons out, won in area swimming meets, and the AAU State Qualifying Meet for the National AAU Junior Olympics, held last week in Batesville. Tori will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, next week to compete in at least eight events in the 13-14 age division. CCN/David McNeal

There is one athlete in Carroll County who doesn't mind being all wet.

She's Berryville eighth-grader-to-be Tori Grim, age 13, who qualified for the AAU National Junior Olympics this summer in eight swimming events.

The Junior Olympics will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, from Aug. 1 through 7. Tori qualified at the AAU State Qualifier in Arkansas on June 25-27 when she swam in 12 individual events and qualified in eight by placing in the top three.

She swims in the 13-14 age group, and was first in the 100m butterfly, second in four other events, and added three third places. She tied for second in High Point honors in her age group with Morgan Cox of Paragould.

It's fun to swim," the all-around athlete, who played seventh-grade basketball at Berryville last year, said. "It feels good when I come out of the water.

Tori has a sack full of first place medals and ribbons from meets she has competed in over the past three years. But she's been swimming a lot longer than that.

"I've been swimming since I was nine with teams," Tori said, but she started even earlier than that in a local swimming program headed by Glenda and Emma Allison.

Emma is now Emma Hamilton, director of the new Berryville Community Center, which houses a 25-yard indoor pool where Tori works out.

Tori's mother, Marcie said, "She practices five days a week and swims about 3,000-plus yards a day at the Community Center. If it wasn't for the Center, she would never have been able to achieve this."

For those who are bad in math, that 3,000 yards in a 25-yard pool equals 120 laps, using four possible strokes ---- freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

Tori had a good season last year with the Harrison squad, the WaterGoblins, then made a change for this season.

"The coach from the Batesville team, George Mitchell, teased me about not being on his team, and he gave me a lot of advice when I was swimming with Harrison," Tori said. "He has two daughters, Sara and Katie, that swim, and his wife, Nancy helps coach. There are a lot of nice people there."

So Tori swam for the AAU Independence County swim team from Batesville this year that competes in the South Wind Swim Conference. That includes seven other teams from northern Arkansas, Pocahontas, Harrison, Wynne, Mountain View, Paragould, Blytheville, and Jonesboro.

"Tori works out here, but it just takes two hours and 20 minutes to get to Batesville," Marcie said. She and husband Greg coach Tori when she works out at home, and have traveled many miles taking her to meets the last three years.

But the AAU Junior Olympics are another thing entirely.

"People from all the states come as each state has a qualifying meet," Tori said. "Only the top three get to go. There are some really fast girls who have been swimming longer."

It will be an exhausting schedule over a three-day period that week, what with eight individual events to compete in. But that isn't all.

"When we get there, we can put together relays teams with anybody," Tori bubbled.

Yes, Tori is going to be swimming her individual events, and could wind up on two relay teams. Even harder, the Junior Olympics will be held in a long pool, which Tori explained.

"The Berryville pool is a short pool, 25 yards long," she said. "The Junior Olympic pool is 50 meters long. I go to Fayetteville three days a week in order to work out in their long pool."

That length makes a huge difference, as swimmers in a short pool have to do flip turns at each end. Less turns are needed in the longer pool, providing better times.

Here are some of Tori's best times so far, in yards, in her short career:

50 freestyle- 31.78; 100 freestyle- 1:12.71; 100 backstroke- 1:26.91; 100 breaststroke- 1:35.12; 100 butterfly- 1:26.72; 200 individual medley (all four strokes)- 2:56.51.

Tori's schedule at the Junior Olympics will have her competing in the 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly events on day one. Day two is like an opening ceremony, where all the athletes gather in one location, with no competitions that day.

Day three will be the 200m individual medley, 100m backstroke, and 400m freestyle events. Day four will be the 100m breaststroke, 200m butterfly, and 100m freestyle events.

Then add in the relays somewhere.

Yeah, she's all wet, a lot, even during basketball season, when she does her swimming workouts after school practices. She will be going against the best in the U.S. in her age group at the Junior Olympics, but doesn't seem fazed.

When asked about all the work, she just went back to her original statement with a big grin.

"It's fun to swim. It feels good when I come out of the water."

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