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Things just keep getting better for Cascade Christian swimmer Breanna Sapienza. The standout signed to compete at NCAA Division I Vanderbilt in November and travels to Greenboro, N.C., today to swim in the Short Course Winter Junior Nationals.
The 18-year-old senior has accomplished much, earning five state prep titles with the Challengers and making a splash on the national club scene with the Superior Stingrays.
She's earned what she has, Stingrays head coach Robin Brickenden said, and she's still hungry for more.
"It's hard work by her," he said. "She worked really hard to get there."
At the Greensboro Aquatic Center, Sapienza will compete in the 50-yard freestyle on Thursday, the 100 butterfly on Friday and the 100 free on Saturday.
She is seeded 12th in the 100 fly, the best out of the three events. Sapienza will need a one percent improvement in the race to make the championship final, Brickenden said.
Her personal record in the 100 fly is 53.8 seconds. Michelle Cefal, a former Westview High star who now swims at Tennessee, holds the state record for 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds (53.1).
Brickenden's confidence in Sapienza grew even more after she reached the halfway mark in the 100 fly at a meet in Redding, Calif., recently in 24.5 seconds. But she sucked in some water during the second half, and that cost her.
"That is a good race and hopefully I can get in the top five in the final," Sapienza said.
The meet marks Sapienza's last opportunity to swim in the Short Course Juniors because next season she will be too old (19) and in college.
Receiving the scholarship from Vanderbilt was a thrill, Sapienza said. She signed in early November after considering offers from Kansas, UCLA, Alabama and Brown.
"When you get as fast as she is and make Olympic trials, they want you," Brickenden said.
Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, Tenn.
"It is amazing," said Sapienza, whose scholarship will cover about 90 percent of annual $60,000 tuition costs. "I feel really honored that they want me."
Sapienza has tapered down her pool work this week to take some stress off her body. One of her secrets to performing strong has been the exercise she's done under the guidance of Cascade Christian sports conditioning expert Dennis Konency.
"She did a very good job of dedicating herself to land training programs," Brickenden said. "(Konency) is putting her through the hard stuff and we make her swim hard stuff."
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at facebook.com/danjonesmt or twitter.com/dljcards