Youth swimmers set national record in Sarasota

From left, Talia Bates, Isabel Ivey, Katie Cronin, Kirschtine Baleuena and coach Jackson Leonard. The four swimmers are members of the Gator Swim Club. (Submitted photo)

Published: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 11:58 p.m.

Kirschtina Baleuena, Talia Bates, Katie Cronin and Isabel Ivey set a national 11-12-year-old record at the Florida Age Group Swimming Championships in Sarasota with a time of 1:39.24 in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

The four girls, who have been swimming together for two and a half years, are members of the Gator Swim Club and students at Kanapaha Middle School.

The talented quartet, already holders of the Florida Local Swimming Committee (FL LSC) girls 11-12-year-old record going into the March 9 race, had aspirations of the national record.

“After we swam our time (1:40.96) at the Gator Holiday Classic on Nov. 30, I went online to see what the national record was,” said coach Jackson Leonard, who came on board to coach the girls a year and a half ago. “We don’t like to make a big deal out of records, but we all privately agreed that would be our goal in preparing to swim (in Sarasota).”

The team that placed second behind Baleuena, Bates, Cronin and Ivey in Sarasota was a whopping seven seconds before the record-holders.

“When I took over this group I knew that they were immensely talented and that they were going to be a special group,” Jackson said.

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