The Delaware Community Center YMCA Riptide swim team has made quite a name for itself locally.
It’s been good — really good — pretty much since day one six years ago.
Next week, though, a team-record three swimmers will be looking to make a splash at the YMCA Short Course National Championship at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, NC.
“This has been our most successful season,” Riptide coach Axel Birnbrich said. “Our swimmers are not only starting to compete in our local meets, but are starting to compete at the national level. This year, we qualified three swimmers to the national championships — Mackenzie Carter, Connor Green and Rena Ouyang — and I believe they will compete to be in the top 30 in the country.”
Carter is swimming in three separate events: the 100 backstroke and 50 and 100 freestyles. Green, meanwhile, will compete in the 500 free while Ouyang will battle for national bragging rights in the 100 butterfly.
“Mackenzie used to be a pure sprinter,” Birnbrich said. “This year, she’s stepped up her training regiment, allowing her to make the standards in the longer events. She swims with a lot of determination and meets her goals.
“Connor loves the distance events and Rena, who swam for (Delaware Hayes) much of the winter season, did a lot of pace work for us in the fall and sprint workouts in high school practices … this combination led her to make the national time standard with a little determination.”
Leading up to the championship meet, which is slated for Tuesday through Saturday, Birnbrich said Carter and Ouyang have been emphasizing sprint work while Green’s been focusing on pace for the most part.
Carter was the first to qualify. Her personal-best effort of 24.04 seconds in the 50 free at the CSC Winter Invite in Indianapolis is the 53rd-fastest time in the country heading into the national showcase.
“It was such an exciting moment,” Carter said. “I was the first one from our team to qualify for nationals in several years and, what made it more exciting, is I qualified as a 12 year old ( Carter turned 13 in February).
She’ll be one of the youngest swimmers competing in the event.
Carter qualified for the other events with respective times of 53.42 (100 free) and 59.27 seconds (100 back).
Green, who was sidelined until November with a broken foot, said earning a chance to compete on the national stage was the culmination of years of hard work. He qualified for the 500 free with an effort of 4:44.22.
“I was super excited when I looked up to the scoreboard and saw the time I got,” he said. “I’d been working really hard for almost two years to get the cut, so it was one of my most exciting moments in swimming.”
Getting to compete at the national level is a huge deal. Getting to compete at the national level alongside his teammates, though, makes it even bigger, Green said.
“I think it will be a lot of fun to share the experience with some of my teammates, and we’re working harder than ever to make sure we swim well at this meet,” he said. “I’m very grateful for all the support I had from my teammates, my family, my coaches and friends. They really helped push me through this season and not just be a better swimmer, but also be a better person.
“I couldn’t have gotten here without any of them and I’m really looking forward to going. I think it will be a cool experience and I’ll get to meet a lot of new people that will push me to work even harder.”
Like her teammates, Ouyang’s qualifying effort of 59.04 seconds in the 100 fly was a personal best. She also qualified for a time trial in the 50 free with a time of 25.15 seconds.
“I was beyond excited when I found out I made it to nationals,” Ouyang said. “When I swam the 100 fly at zones, I was doing a time trial, so I wasn’t racing against anyone but myself. Right before my turn going into the last 50 yards of the race, I thought to myself, ‘Rena, you need to make this time.’
“When I touched the wall, I actually didn’t know if I had made the cut or not. My teammates and I were anxiously waiting for Axel to confirm the time, and when we found out I’d made the cut, we started screaming and hugging. Being cheered on by my teammates and finally making the time was such a rush … it was truly one of the best feelings ever.”
If you’re headed down to Greensboro next week, don’t blink … you might miss something.
“It’s crazy because I made the qualifying time by only five-hundredths of a seconds, which is faster than the blink of an eye,” Ouyang said.