Athlete of Week: Clinton makes big splash in pool

aow-clintonLike many kids his age, Harrison Clinton has spent a lot of time in the pool this summer. But unlike many of those teenagers who have been enjoying their leisure time, Clinton has been putting in hard work, and it’s starting to pay off.

The 14-year-old swimmer has been raking in the awards as a member of the Coastal Aquatic Club, including first-place finishes in six of eight events at last week’s Last-Chance Summer Invite. He enters next week’s Long Course State Championships as the top-ranked swimmer in the 100 and 200 butterfly and breast stroke, but his success has not come easily.

“It’s been tough but it has made it possible for me to keep improving over time,” said Clinton, who also added the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week award to his growing list of honors. “I’ve had to say no to friends about hanging out, and I’ve had to say no to a lot of things, but all that sacrifice is paying off in the pool.”

Clinton and his family recently relocated to the Grand Strand from Maryland, where he was first introduced to swimming and competed at the Naval Academy Aquatic Club five years ago. He made slow but steady progress until joining forces with CAC coach Fabio Silva, who introduced Clinton to an intensive training program designed to help him reach the next level.

Clinton’s workout routine now starts at 6 a.m. with two hours of training in the pool, followed by “dry land” training in the gym with weights and cardio exercises. He also puts in afternoon and evening swim sessions and weekend workouts, which have helped him propel himself from just another member of the team to the front of the pack – and moving up.

In fact, Clinton was recently named to the Southeast’s Zone Team, an all-star squad from the surrounding states that compete nationwide against the top swimmers from other areas of the country. Following the state finals, Clinton will travel to Mississippi to take part in the USA Swimming Zone Team Sectionals with a chance to move on to Nationals.

The rising eighth grader then returns to Carolina Forest to represent his school in the pool, so there is little down time for Clinton before the summer melts into fall. But Clinton wouldn’t have it any other way and thanks his coach for showing him how to make great strides in the pool, and his new team for making it fun to compete and improve.

“Swimming is a lot more fun and exciting than my last team,” he said. “The parents and teammates weren’t supportive and the coach would tell me how bad I did. Now the parents and my teammates cheer for me and the coach gives me positive encouragement. He knows what to say to motivate me and help me get better. It’s been a great experience.”

It’s no wonder Clinton is spending more time in the pool, and getting more out of it.

Photo courtesy of CAC

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