California dreamin' for Kinder

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Hannah Kinder's ability to continually drop time in the pool has helped the Central senior-to-be wrack up frequent-flyer miles as she travels across the country participating in some of the most prestigious meets in the nation.

Thanks to her performance at a sectional meet in Columbia, Mo., in July, Kinder has earned a trip to the 2006 Speedo Junior National Championships in Irvine, Calif. The meet begins on Monday and concludes Friday.

"This is the biggest meet for people 18 and under, so it's pretty far up there," Kinder said.

A year ago, Kinder was swimming at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in New Orleans. Kinder brought home first-place finishes in the 50, 100, 200 and 400 freestyle events.

At the Junior National Championships, Kinder will compete in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 100 back. Kinder's time of 26.66 seconds in the 50 free was good enough to qualify her for the Senior National Championships, which finished Saturday in Irvine.

"In my 50 free at sectionals, my time was 26.6 and that's a senior national cut, the biggest meet next to the Olympic trials," Kinder said. "I'm going to try to get the Olympic cut of 26.39."

The Olympic trials take place the year of the Olympics, with the next Summer Olympics set for Beijing in 2008.

"The Olympics may be a little beyond [my reach], but Olympic trials, I want to go to that," Kinder said.

Kinder has drastically cut her times in both the 50 free and 100 free since last summer. After winning the 50 free in 27.88 seconds and the 100 in 1:00.83 in New Orleans last summer -- both times fell short of Kinder's goal of U.S. Open qualifying times -- Kinder has cut more than a second off her 50 free time and more than 2 seconds off her 100 free time. Kinder swam the 100 free in 58.47 seconds at the USA Central Section Region VIII Long Course Summer Championship, July 19 through 22 in Columbia.

With a little less than two years of swimming year-round under her belt, Kinder's progress has been off the charts. In a sport where every second counts, Kinder has made huge time cuts over the last few years.

"That's why I'm so excited," Kinder said. "I wish I'd gotten started earlier because this is when colleges start looking at your times, but I think I still have a lot of room to improve."

Kinder is coming off another successful high school campaign, taking home a pair of second-place finishes at the state meet in May in the 50 and 100 freestyle. As a sophomore, Kinder finished third in both the 50 and 100 free.

Heading into her senior year, Kinder has a busy schedule ahead of her. The girls swimming season has been moved from the spring to the winter this year, and Kinder also plans on participating in the U.S. Open in West Lafayette, Ind., in early December.

In the spring, Kinder will make her way to the Senior National Championships in New York.

On top of those plans Kinder has to start thinking about college as well. Kinder's times should guarantee her a spot on a collegiate squad when that time comes.

Kinder said it is her goal to swim in college.

"I haven't narrowed them [official visits] down yet, but right now I really want to go to Texas," Kinder said.

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