COLLEGE STATION — Today's the day for Palestine High School freshman swimmer Sydney Veneris.
Veneris will compete in her first-ever regional swim meet today at the Texas A&M University Student Rec Center.
Preliminaries will take place this evening, with finals set for Saturday evening.
Veneris will compete in the championship finals should she place in the top eight of the 200-yard individual medley. She will swim consolation finals with a ninth through 16th-place finish.
“It means a lot to me,” said Art Veneris, Sydney's father, when asked about his daughter's success in swimming, which was offered for the first time in school history during the 2018-19 academic calendar.
“The ISD (Palestine Independent School District) and Kathrine (Newton) have been able to push forward with this endeavor,” Veneris continued. “I cannot express my appreciation enough.”
Veneris is proud of his daughter's ability to complete this year, and see success in what's considered a sport geared toward the individual.
Sydney registered a time of three minutes, 9.75 seconds in the 200 IM at the District 17-5A meet in Lufkin to qualify.
This was her top time by more than seven seconds, and was good enough for a fifth-place finish overall.
Sydney Veneris said she's gained a heap of confidence through swimming.
“I've been able to compete with the year-round swimmers,” she said.
The individual medley isn't an easy race, either.
“First off, you're swimming all the different strokes,” said Palestine swim team advisor/coordinator Kathrine Newton. “It's a totally different race. You have to work on all of your techniques, and pay attention to the turns and transitions. There are many things to consider, and you must pace yourself.”
The order of strokes for the individual medley is as follows: Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and finally freestyle.
Newton reported Veneris' strongest stroke is the backstroke.
Sydney's also improved on her breaststroke by leaps and bounds, the coach commented, and her freestyle is solid.
Veneris also was close to qualifying for the regional meet in the 100 freestyle; but, she placed ninth in 1:17.97.
Sophomore John Berry also was close to qualifying; however, he was eighth in the boys' 100 fly (1:10.93). Berry needed to swim just a couple seconds faster to qualify. Yes, every second counts.
Veneris, who won't turn 15 until April, said she's enjoyed traveling to meets this year with Berry, her older brother, Sam Veneris, and Colyer LaFontaine — picking up experience in the water and making memories along the way.
This isn't the first time Veneris has swam solo.
Several years ago, Sydney was the lone Piranha nine-year-old performer (boy or girl) to swim at YMCA Lone Star Championships.
Swimming and diving is a bit different from postseasons in other sports. For instance, there are eight regional meets — not four like most others.
The first- and second-place swimmer in each event of the eight regionals will advance to state — along with the next best eight finals times overall (regardless of region).
Who: Palestine's Sydney Veneris
What: The Conference 5A-Region V Swim Meet
When: Today and Saturday, preliminaries take place today and finals are tomorrow.
Where: Texas A&M Student Rec Center, College Station. The facility is located on Olsen Boulevard.
What's at stake?: A trip to the University Interscholastic League state meet set for the Jamail Swim Center in Austin Feb. 16-17.