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Dewhurst, Tunell ready for Far West regionals
Just keep it close.
That's what Josh Dewhurst is hoping to do next week at the Far West Swimming Championship in San Jose, Calif., in each of the nine events he qualified in.
Dewhurst is one of three Yuma Heat swimmers that qualified for the event, and along with Sydney Tunell is making the trip on Wednesday. Devon Wheeler also qualified in the 200-yard butterfly but will be unable to attend.
With a second-place finish in the state tournament in the 100 butterfly already under his belt, Dewhurst said he's hoping to use his wingspan down the stretch to pull out close races.
“Being around all that competition really riles me up,” Dewhurst said. “And I'm a racer, I've never been out-touched. If I'm with kids that are faster than me, I'm pretty sure I can pull through.”
In addition to the 100 fly, Dewhurst said he's looking to reach the finals in the 200 freestyle. He qualified in a total of four freestyle races, two butterflies, two individual medleys and the 200 backstroke.
Only swimming competitively for two years, he has shown great improvement. New Yuma Aquatics head coach Marcel da Ponte likes what he sees out of Dewhurst, who will be a freshman at Kofa next month.
“I've only been the coach here three months, but he has improved tremendously,” da Ponte said. “His times (have improved) at the state meet, too, like in the 100 butterfly he dropped down 6 seconds, which is a huge improvement.”
Heading into the state meet, Dehurst had already qualified for five events at the Far West Regional. He finished the meet sixth in total points.
“I knew I was going to make at least six, and at state I felt real good,” Dewhurst said. “I busted four more out, because I already had five in the bag. I busted four more out, and it was kind of a surprise I guess. I was swimming really well.”
It's the second trip to the Far West tournament for Dewhurst, who competed in the spring in the short-course version of the event. Wednesday's championship is the long-course finale.
“I'm hoping to do a lot better than last time,” Dewhurst said. “Looking back, if my times were converted, I would have qualified.”
He won't be alone in representing Yuma, with 12-year-old Tunell going as well. She said she's looking forward to competing against top-of-the-line competition in her event, the 50 backstroke.
Tunell will get a warm-up in before heading to San Jose as a member of the Yuma Sandsharks, the recreational branch of Yuma Aquatics. The Sandsharks host the Imperial Valley Swim League championships at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Valley Aquatic Center. Tunell said she's gunning for the top-point earner status for the event, but that isn't goal No. 1 — despite the fact that she's captured the title five straight years.
“It's important, but I really just like swimming and having fun,” Tunell said.
She said that's one of her favorite aspects of the Sandsharks.
“It helps you keep in the water and race and everything, and it's fun to do,” Tunell said. “There's some people who swim in it that don't do Yuma Heat, so it's fun to see them.”
Da Ponte said it's a good warm-up.
“Toward the end of the season you need to do a lot of sprint work, and I like that a lot,” da Ponte said. “A lot of the Sandshark meets are short distances. Thy can get some sprinting in while still getting race preparation.”