Club swimming: Prairie Ridge's Valerie Tarazi earns 1st, two 3rds at Junior Nationals; not done yet

Prairie Ridge senior Valerie Tarazi aimed all of her training this summer for the National Club Swimming Association Junior National Championships at IUPUI in Indianapolis.

So far, Tarazi is thrilled with the results.

On Thursday night, she won the 50-meter breaststroke in 32.31 seconds, taking the title by two-tenths of a second. Tarazi followed that with a third-place finish in the 200 breaststroke Friday night. She also took third in the 100 breaststroke Wednesday.

“I was seeded 17th coming into the meet (in the 200), and I dropped a little time (in the preliminary heat Friday) and was seeded fourth,” Tarazi said. “I was less than a half-second off making the (2020 U.S.) Olympic Trials, so I’m happy with that.”

Tarazi is the lone girl from the Mundelein Mustangs Swim Club competing at the meet. Mustangs coach George Keenan decided to have Tarazi scratch from the 100 butterfly Friday morning and concentrate her efforts on the 200 breaststroke.

“The 100 fly was the first event, and we were up late [Thursday],” Tarazi said. “I got an extra hour of sleep and dropped more than a second (2:36.95 in the prelims). It was a good choice.”

Tarazi dropped more time for a 2:35.41 finish in the finals.

On Thursday, she barely made the finals of the 50 breaststroke, then made the most of her opportunity in the finals.

“It was really great,” she said. “I was a little disappointed from the 100 breaststroke the night before because I didn’t get my best time. You can’t always get best times. Third is still great, so I was super happy with that. But I really wanted to win.”

Tarazi’s 33.28 prelim time in the 50 breaststroke was slower than her first 50 in the 100 from Wednesday, but she advanced.

“I was a little taken aback, but I knew I had a lot more in me for the night,” Tarazi said. “I was seeded fourth, and I got a good nap in, got something to eat and, it’s a 50, so it’s an all-out sprint. It really doesn’t matter how you feel, you just dive in the water and try to get your hand on the wall before anyone else.”

Tarazi has three preliminary races Saturday, the 50 backstroke, 200 individual medley and 50 freestyle. After that, she will head to Mexico for a week of vacation with her family, then on to the high school season.

Tarazi had hoped to commit to an NCAA Division I college for swimming before the national meet but has not yet. She has a list of final schools comprised of Arizona, Auburn, Hawaii, Rutgers, UCLA and USC. Tarazi plans on making official visits this fall.

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