East Hampton High School student Marina Preiss recently took the next step up the ladder of USA Swimming when she competed in the 2012 Eastern Zone North Region LCM Sectionals Meet in Buffalo over the weekend of March 22 through 25.
Preiss, a 15-year-old sophomore at East Hampton, qualified in three events, the 100-meter backstroke, the 100-meter freestyle and 50-meter freestyle, and also swam in the 200-meter freestyle as a “bonus” meet, per meet rules. Preiss shaved three seconds off her previous-best time in the 200 free and also placed 22nd in the 50 free, in 28.03 seconds, and was 10th in the 100 free, in 1:00.43.
Preiss is the first East Hampton swimmer to qualify and swim at this level of competition, and she was competing against some of the country’s best up-and-coming swimmers in Buffalo. The sectional meet is just one qualifying step lower than the USA Swimming Junior National Meet, which is one qualifying step lower than the Olympic Trials.
According to her mother and coach, Meg Preiss, Marina is just under a second off the qualifying time for junior nationals in both the 50 and 100 free, her signature events. Junior nationals are being held next week in Florida; Preiss won’t be able to compete there this time around, but she’ll be focused on qualifying for that event next year. If she can make it to junior nationals, she’ll set her sights on qualifying for nationals, which has the same qualifying standard times as the Olympic Trials.
While she still has a long way to go, Marina’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the Olympics, her mother said.
Preiss takes that goal seriously, swimming six or seven days a week on a year-round basis at the East Hampton YMCA. She is not a member of the YMCA Hurricanes swim team, but rather swims independently. She had a successful high school season in the fall, qualifying for states in the 50 and 100 free, placing 12th in both events.