By Amy SunseriFebruary 23, 2011
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - Three swimmers affiliated with Fort Huachuca recently made a big splash when their times qualified them for nationals. 2nd Lt. Kenneth Cummings, Company C; 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, Anna DeLozier, Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Grounds (C4ISR) and Carmen DeLeon, lifeguard, Barnes Field House will compete against swimmers from across the nation in the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship in April.
"We [DeLozier, Cummings and DeLeon] just went to one meet to try to qualify or get used to swimming in meets," DeLozier said.
At that meet in January their times were good enough for each of them to gain a spot in the national's competition. Cummings qualified in the Breaststroke (50 and 100) and the 100 Backstroke. At the next meet he says he's going to focus on the 50 Backstroke and the 100, 200 and 400 Individual Medley, in hopes of being able to compete in more events at nationals.
Prior to the Army, Cummings was in the Navy for 13 years. He says his competitive swimming background comes from swimming in high school.
DeLeon will compete in the 100 Freestyle at nationals. Her specialty along with the 100 Freestyle is the 100 Backstroke and the 200 IM. At the next swim meet, she will also attempt to qualify for the other two events for nationals.
She, too, has been swimming since her sophomore year in high school. Along with being a lifeguard at the pool, DeLeon is also a freshman in college.
This will be the first time Cummings and DeLeon compete in a national competition, against swimmers 18 and up. DeLozier, the trio's unofficial coach, is the veteran of the group and no stranger to nationals. She says she's been swimming for the past 40 years competing both nationally and locally.
"I'm a true distance swimmer, so the longer the event the better. I qualified in the 1650, 500 Freestyle, probably the 400 IM and 200 Backstroke," said DeLozier.
Up until the competition in April the three say they'll be training hard and working to improve their times. On March 6, they'll attend one last swim meet at Arizona State University to try to qualify for a few more national events.
"All of these meets, the local meets, is kind of like a bigger practice to get the feel of competing with other phenomenal swimmers. It's just like another practice until you actually get to nationals," explained DeLeon.
Although the three will be competing in nationals, they say swimming is much more than a competition.
"Yes it's a competition, but it's also an opportunity for people to stay fit and socialize," said DeLozier.
The trio train Monday through Friday around 5 a.m. at the pool inside Barnes Field House on Fort Huachuca. The group calls themselves "an un-organized, organized group."
"I'm a regular swimmer at the pool, so I kind of just recruited some folks just to swim in meets and stuff like that," said DeLozier.
"We work together to help push one another," Cummings added.
"I encourage people to join us if they want to. We don't do anything really organized but we just get in there [pool] and keep each other motivated," DeLozier explained.
DeLeon says they're there to help, whether people are looking to just swim a few laps or wanting that extra encouragement to push themselves.
The U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship takes place April 28 - May 1 at the Kino Jr. High Aquatics Complex in Mesa. Each year, the event is held in a different location throughout the nation. The trio encourages people from the area to come out to the competition and show their support.
"We want to thank those who came out to the last meet and showed their support," Cummings said, adding that support gives them an extra boost of motivation and determination during the competitions.
What happens if they win an event at nationals'
"Well one, you get a cool trophy and get to say, 'Hey, I won nationals,'" Cummings stated. He went on to explain that winning nationals is the first step to the Olympic trials. "It's based on times, again." The only way to advance in an event and to beat out ones competitor is to have the best time.
So who knows. The nationals could be the first of many more events for these three swimmers.
For more information on the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship, visit http://www.usms.org/comp/scnats11/.