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Elerding grabs two top six finishes at Western Zone swim meet

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Joey Elerding, son of Dr. Steve and Linda Elerding, returned from competing in the Western Zone swim meet in California, where he had a top six finish in both the 800 and 1,500 freestyle races.

We already knew his older brother Patrick can swim, but now Joey Elerding is making a name for himself as well.

Elerding, 14, returned earlier this week from the Western Zone swim meet in Redding, Calif. The meet features the best swimmers by age group from 13 western states, including Hawaii and Alaska.

Elerding nabbed a top five finish in the 1,500-meter freestyle event. He was fifth in the mile-long event with a clocking of 17:24.89. The top time in the 1,500 was 17:05.46.

In the 800-meter freestyle, Elerding placed sixth in a competitive field with a time of 9:07.92. The winning time in the 800 was a clocking of 9:00.07.

"I should have had two top five finishes," said Elerding.

Elerding has been swimming since he was 6 years old. He is a member of the Tri-Cities Channel Cats. The Channel Cats are affiliated with the United States Swimming Association and compete in the Pacific Northwest year around.

During the summer, Elerding dedicates four hours per day, except for Wednesdays and Fridays, to swimming. During the school year, Elerding swims for two hours each day, but puts in some extra time during the weekend.

Elerding will join his brother at Sunnyside Christian High School this fall, where he will be a freshman.

Elerding said through his association with the Tri-Cities swim team he has been able to travel extensively. He has competed in swim meets year-around in Seattle, Spokane, Federal Way, Moscow, Idaho and Pendleton, Ore to name just a few spots.

One of the reasons Elerding stays involved with swimming is because he enjoys competing, bettering himself and being involved.

"I have been doing it for so long it would be a waste of time to quit now," said Elerding.

The 800 freestyle is Elerding's favorite event.

"It is the right distance," said Elerding. "It is not too long. It is not too short."

This year marks the third time that Elerding has competed at the Western Zone swim meet. Elerding also swam at the meet when he was 10 and 12 years old.

By finishing in the top six in both freestyle events, Elerding qualified for the Senior Sectional Championship next spring and summer.

"The youngest people are usually like 14 years old," said Elerding of the competition at the Senior Sectionals. "That is what I was aiming for."

The Senior Sectionals provide a unique opportunity for swimmers, who can post qualifying times for such prestigious events as the U.S. Open and the Olympic trials.

A notable point about Elerding's outing at the Western Zone swim meet is that he hasn't swam either the 800 or 1,500 freestyle races that many times. This was only the third time that Elerding swam the 800. Elerding said there is only one meet during the year that he competes in the 800 freestyle race.

Elerding said he is happy to have qualified for the Senior Sectional Championships. Elerding added that he enjoys competing in swimming and doesn't really have any ultimate goal in regards to where he would like the sport to take him.

"I usually make-up ones all the time," he smiled.

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