Standing above the crowd

By Richard Greene | Published Thursday, July 21, 2011

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TOWERING OVER COMPETITION - Caycee Holson at 5-4 is taller than most of her fellow 10-year-old swimmers. She's also stood out with her performance in the pool. She will swim in the state championships this weekend. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Out of the pool, Caycee Holson towers over most of her 10-year-old competitors.

“When she stands on the blocks, she’s so much taller than the other girls,” said Fit-N-Wise Quest Aquatics coach Nancy Wendell.

In the water, the 5-4 sixth-grader has also reigned over many of her competitors in the 50-meter backstroke.

It’s one of three events that she will compete in over the weekend at the USA Swimming Long Course Texas Age Group Standards Championships at the University of Texas in Austin. Holson will also swim in the 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle.

Wendell said Holson just missed reaching her TAGS time in a fourth event – the 100 freestyle.

“TAGS is a big deal,” Wendell said. “She’ll be competing with some of the best 10-and-under swimmers in the nation.”

Holson will swim in prelims in the three events with the top eight making the finals to compete for medals. She’s hoping to bring a medal home in the shorter backstroke race.

“I want to try to get in the finals and medal,” she said.

At 10 years old, Holson is already a veteran in the pool. She’s been swimming competitively for the past three years.

“I used to take swim lessons from a woman in Bridgeport, and she said I should try out for the swim team in Decatur,” Holson recalls. “My parents were for it.”

It didn’t take long for her to be hooked and fall in love with the sport. She really enjoys the social aspect of it.

“It’s fun, and I get to be with my friends,” Holson said.

In her first year of swimming competitively, Holson went to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation championships with Quest in 2008.

“She made it to state and did great,” Wendell said. “We took 11 to state that year.”

Because of the success of Holson and the rest of the team, Quest made the move to USA Swimming in January 2009 to put the athletes against tougher competition.

Holson has stepped up to the challenge. In January, she finished third in the 50-yard backstroke at the 2011 Greater Southwest Invite at Loos Natatorium in Addison, swimming a 33.25 in the A championship meet. She finished in the top 13 in two other events at the meet.

She also competed in the short course TAGS championships.

In June, at the Bill Nixon Invitational A meet in Rockwall, Holson took second in the 50-meter backstroke in 37.35. She finished third in the 50 freestyle in 34.08 and sixth in the 100 backstroke in 1:26.82.

Her success in the pool is not by accident. She practices at least four days per week.

“It’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” Holson said. “My parents make me go to every practice, meet and a lot of camps, too.”

She added that the work is necessary to compete at a high level.

Her favorite event is 50 backstroke.

“I’m really fast in it,” Holson said.

Wendell agrees that it’s her strongest event.

“She catches a lot of water and shoots out,” her coach explained.

Wendell and Holson were awaiting the seeding for this weekend’s races. The coach expected Holson to be seeded high in the backstroke with a strong shot at making the finals.

“Her goal is to make the finals in the 50 backstroke,” Wendell said. “She’s pretty competitive.

“I’d love to see her pull a medal.”

It’d make her stand out and above the competition again.

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