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Penn Hills swimmer Gregory gets a shot at Olympians

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, January 20, 2018 1:27 a.m
ptrPHswimKimani100fly031516
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn Hills' Kimani Gregory competes in the 100 fly at practice Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Penn Hills.

Being the best in one’s sport requires a lot of sweat and sacrifice. Penn Hills junior Kimani Gregory is trying to become one of the best in swimming.

Last week, Gregory, who is part of Racer X Aquatics swim club, participated in the TYR Pro Swim Series meet in Austin, Texas, which included decorated U.S. Olympians.

Gregory, a 16-year-old, finished 13th in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 51.31 seconds. Gregory swam a 51.56 in the preliminaries to qualify for the consolation final. U.S. Olympian Nathan Adrian, who is 29 years old, won the 100 freestyle with a time of 48.75.

“It’s not every day you get to swim against Olympians, be in the same meet as an Olympian or make the international team,” Gregory said.

“It’s an opportunity to see where you’re at as a swimmer and USA swimming. It really broadens the scope of how swimming can be for you in the future.”

The travel itinerary for Gregory, who is getting recruited by some major Division I programs, has been jam-packed since October.

He was practicing in the pool three times a week in October and November while balancing his time with SAT tutoring. After the USA Swimming National Championships at Ohio State, Gregory turned up his training program by practicing five days a week.

At the Winter National Championships, Gregory finished third in the 100 freestyle with a time of 45.13, a half-second behind the winner.

During the Pitt Christmas meet from Dec. 14-17, Gregory won the 100 freestyle with a time of 44.94 and finished second in the 100 breaststroke (58.21) and 50 freestyle (20.65).

He finished third in the 100 butterfly (49.95) and fourth in the 200 IM (1:54.34).

With the support of family, friends and teachers, Gregory has maintained focus on his performance in the classroom and the pool.

“You need to have friends that understand what you do and have teachers that understand the level of competitiveness that you have and where you’re at in your sport,” Gregory said.

While he might miss class because he’s out of town, Gregory receives class notes from friends and teaches himself the lessons he missed.

Last season, Gregory finished second (44.57) in the 100 freestyle at the PIAA Class AAA swimming and diving championships.

At states, he took ninth (50.61) in the 100 butterfly and won the event at WPIALs with a time of 50.17.

Gregory was part of the boys 200 freestyle relay team that finished 16th (1:26.96) at states last season and sixth (1:27.45) at WPIALs.

“I think I will push myself and understand where the competition is,” Gregory said. “I want to be ahead of the competition and beat the competition to get back on top of the podium for the next two years.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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