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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Swimming with the champs

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Jenae Huffman was invited to swim with the United States Olympic Team

Jenae Huffman had the swim of her life.

The Northview High School junior got to share a swimming pool with the 2004 Olympic Swim team Oct. 9 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. She swam in a 50-meter freestyle for the "Chasing the Champions" event during the 2004 FINA World Swimming Championships.

Huffman was chosen by raffle to represent St. Vincent Clay Hospital, a member of St. Vincent Health, one of the major sponsors of the event.

More than 97 countries entered more than 600 athletes in the five-day swimming extravaganza. Although the World Championship is 10 years old, this is just the seventh time it has actually occurred. And, this is the first time it's been in the United States.

Jenae was thrilled to be a part of it.

When she and her family arrived at Conseco Fieldhouse, about 1 p.m. Saturday, the morning swim sessions were done. Jenae saw some of the Olympic Girls Swim Team, however, and she saw different teams from other countries.

"They spoke to us and were very friendly," Jenae said. "If they couldn't speak English, they'd smile and wave."

The 16-year-old was nervous when she first got in the pool.

"It was a little scary," she said. "When we first got in we started thinking about all the pros who swam there in the morning and would be back that night. It was really neat."

Jenae embraced the moment. She swam about 3:30 p.m. in a 50-meter freestyle. Out of seven student competitors in her heat, Jenae came in 5th with a time of 37 seconds. The winner, a guy, finished in 27 seconds.

"They mixed the guys and girls," Jenae said. "That wasn't stressful. It was fun. I didn't come in last. That was my main goal.

Even talking on the phone, her smile and pure happiness could be felt.

"I'll remember it forever," Jenae said.

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