High school girls swimming: Prairie Ridge's Valerie Tarazi heads to national championships as part of busy summer

Valerie Tarazi enjoyed one of the greatest competitive experiences of her swimming career last summer when she swam at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha.

Tarazi did not make the U.S. Olympic swimming team, but her times there earned her a spot at the Phillips 66 National Championships this week in Indianapolis. Tarazi, who will be a senior at Prairie Ridge, will swim for a shot at the U.S. World team or the U.S. Junior World team (18 and under).

The top two finishers in each event qualify for the USA’s team that will compete in the World Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary next month. The World Junior Swimming Championships will be held in Indianapolis in late August.

Tarazi is not expecting to make either team, but she is not ruling it out, either.

“Honestly, I do (have a shot), but maybe not this week,” she said. “I’m not going to be rested for it because my focus meet is going to be at the end of the summer, at Junior Nationals. I’m going (to world qualifying) just to get the experience. I’ve been training super-hard the last few months, so it’s not out of the question.”

Tarazi swims six times a week with the Mundelein Mustangs Swim Club and also works out at Davis Speed Center near Crystal Lake. She will swim in the 200-meter breaststroke on Wednesday, the 50 breaststroke on Thursday, the 100 breaststroke on Friday and the 200 individual medley on Saturday.

“I want to be right around my times and improve a little bit,” Tarazi said. “I’m going there for the experience. To qualify for the world championships is not a small thing. I really wanted to go and get this experience because there are going to be a bunch of college teams there and I want to race against the best in the world.”

Tarazi was the IHSA champion in the 100 breaststroke and runner-up in the 200 IM as a sophomore. She took second and sixth, respectively, in those races last year. She has not tapered in her training for this meet, but will do so for the National Club Swimming Association Junior National Championships on Aug. 1-5 in the same pool as this week.

Tarazi also plans on swimming in the Speedo National Championships in New York from Aug. 8-12.

It is all part of a busy summer as Tarazi zeroes in on which college she will pick. She has 14 NCAA Division I scholarship offers and has seen 17 colleges on unofficial visits. She hopes to commit by the end of July.

Tarazi has been in contact with 45 of the top 50 D-I swimming programs, but did not want to name the 14 which had offered. She is looking at some of the nation’s top programs, such as Auburn, California, Florida, Louisville, Texas, UCLA, USC and Virginia.

“I”m really honored to receive these (offers) because they’re not small things,” Tarazi said. “Just to be wanted feels really good. It’s a big thing.”

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