Finley Makes a Splash at Junior Nationals

Read our Student Spotlight on James Finley


By the time spring break rolls around, high schoolers are usually desperate for a respite from their hectic lives. Most students spend their break visiting family, going on vacation, or just relaxing at home. However, James Finley, a junior here at STE, is not like most students. Over spring break, James traveled to Orlando, Florida, to compete in the Junior Nationals swimming championships. Given his swimming career’s inauspicious beginnings, making it this far was quite the accomplishment.

“When I was five years old, I started because my mom wanted me to do a sport. Though I was reluctant at first, I eventually grew to love it,” said James. “As of now, I’ve been swimming for twelve years every summer, and three years ago I joined the USA swimming club ‘Coog Aquatics.’”

Finley, seen here in the red trunks, prepares to swim his race.

The culmination of all those years of hard work was the Junior Nationals meet. Starting on March 14, hundreds of swimmers who had qualified from all over the United States met in Orlando for the week long competition. According to Finley, it was quite grueling, as swimmers had to compete in prelims and finals every day in an Olympic-sized pool. Nevertheless, James overcame these challenges and competed well, with times of 1:00.4 in the 100 yard breaststroke and 50.4 in the 100 yard freestyle.

Concentration and focus are keys to success. Finley centers himself for his       upcoming race.

“I was really happy with my results. Not only that, but it was also really motivational to see all those great swimmers. I met the fastest under-18 breast-strokers in the country, and they were really cool. ” said Finley, “The only sad part about it was that nobody else from my club qualified, so I was a bit lonely.”

As well as swimming strong, James enjoyed visiting the famous Universal Studios.

Not only was James successful in his swimming endeavors, but he also took the time to enjoy Orlando. After the meet was over, James spent a day at Universal Studios with his family, visiting iconic places such as Diagon Alley (from Harry Potter) and the set of the popular TV show, Fear Factor. All in all, it was a rewarding trip.

When asked about potentially going to compete next year, James lit up, saying “I definitely plan on going again, though I hope some of my other teammates can make it. I will work a ton on my breaststroke technique for next year, in order to have a shot at making the finals. I honestly can’t wait.”