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Mia Sunseri, left and Victoria Kidney both swam at the YMCA National Swimming Championships in College Park, Md. from July 31-Aug. 3.

MARTINS FERRY — The old saying goes, “hard work pays offî,” and it certainly did for two local swimmers. Mia Sunseri, 15 and Victoria Kidney, 13, of the Cardinal Aquatics, Wheeling YMCA, both competed in the YMCA National Swimming Championships in College Park, Md. from July 31-Aug. 3.

Sunseri qualified in four events in the 200 breaststroke, 400 IM, 100 breaststroke and 200 IM while Kidney competed in the 200 backstroke, 100 backstroke and 50 backstroke.

“That is a meet where there is a qualifying time standard,î Cardinals Aquatics coach Anthony Sunseri said about the championships. “This was long course meters. There is also a short course yards qualifying time standard as well. They have to achieve that qualifying that time standard within that 12 months from the time of the meet. They had over the year to achieve that qualifying time standard.”

While swimmers train year round, there’s something about the summer program that puts athletes in a different mindset.

“The summer program is a little bit different than the winter program,” Anthony Sunseri said. “During the winter, we carry anywhere from 60 athletes and the summer is a much smaller program. We have a lot of swimmers that gravitate to the local swim clubs like Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville. What we’re training through the summer are those athletes that are swimming U.S. Swimming. It’s typically athletes who are in eighth grade or older. It’s much smaller and a much more focused group. We have anywhere from 10-12 athletes that train during the summer group. It’s a much more smaller group and a much more focused group as far as what to do and why they are there.”

Mia Sunseri finished with some great results at the championships. In the 400 IM, she placed seventh overall and timed in at 1:14.82 in the 100 breaststroke, good enough for 12th place. While she didn’t place in the 200 IM, she secured a time of 2:26.73.

However, she made some noise in the 200 breaststroke. With a time of 2:34.77, she placed second, which shattered the Allegheny Mountain LSC record. She also qualified for the U.S. Swimming Nationals which is at the end of November. She also qualified for U.S. Junior Nationals which is the week after U.S. Nationals. Both of the events are in Greensboro, N.C.

It was very special for Anthony Sunseri to be a part of as Mia is his daughter.

“It’s certainly an added bonus that she’s my daughter and I’m fortunate enough to be in that process of being part of that experience and coaching her,” Anthony Sunseri said. ìThat was great to watch, great to be a part of that and really motivating from a number of perspectives as a coach and a parent.î

Kidney swam a 2:27.45 in the 200 backstroke, 1:09.18 in the 100 backstroke and 32.69 in the 50 backstroke.

“She’s one of youngest swimmers to ever to qualify to nationals. She qualified for short course nationals this past spring, and this past summer, she ramped it up and qualify in three events. It was really great progress for her,î Anthony Sunseri said.

And with all the success they have had, the summer is not a typical one for these swimmers. Mia Sunseri, a sophomore and Kidney, an eighth grader, woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready for their two-hour practice in the pool. A morning practice six days of week form 6:30-8:30 a.m. is just the beginning on some days. Also there’s an evening session three days a week from 5:30-7 p.m..

“It’s an earlier morning, and it’s not getting up early to go and do something you recognize something that’s going to be fun for the next 120 minutes after you get in that water,” Anthony Sunseri said. “It’s a real untraditional summer and a commitment to that kind of summer to a student-athlete.

“Victoria, she had to get up earlier than probably everybody else because of the added distance from Marshall County to Martins Ferry (Pool) where we practiced. They would have to get up about 5:30 a.m. And we’re in the water for 120 minutes after practice starts at 6:30.

“A lot of them have the same schedule, they all appreciate what they need to be doing as far as recovering, getting their rest during the days. These kids have some summer reading assignments or summer school assignments, and get ready to go again in the evening when we have a second practice which was typically three days a week.”

The Cardinal Aquatics team is open any athlete that wants to swim.

“We’re a year round program and we will getting ready to start the fall program in the first week of September. We welcome all abilities and all levels and we’re excited for another exciting season,” Anthony Sunseri said.

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