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Chase Enjoys Swimming’s ‘Low-Key’ Competition

Lake Braddock running star competes in NVSL all-star meet.

Sophie Chase started running competitively as a freshman at Lake Braddock Secondary School in 2009. In two years, she’s established herself as one of the top distance runners in the state, competing in cross country, along with indoor and outdoor track.

Chase’s success, including a second-place finish at the 2010 state cross country meet, have landed her much in the way of media attention, expectations and pressure. While Chase said she enjoys competition, one sport that she’s been involved in for much longer than running allows her to fulfill a competitive fix without having to deal with pressure.

Chase has been swimming since she was 7, and does so for Lake Braddock in the winter. On Aug. 6, she competed in the Northern Virginia Swim League all-star meet at Waynewood Recreation Association in Alexandria. A member of the Burke Station swim team, Chase placed fourth in the girls 15-18 50-meter breaststroke with a time of 35.08 seconds, and 10th in the 15-18 100-meter individual medley (1:10.72).

"It’s really, really great," Chase said of her experience at the all-star meet. "Any opportunity that I get to compete I’ll just come out and take it. … The thing I love about swimming is that it’s so low key, so much less pressure for me. It’s almost like I can just go out and have fun and not worry about times and placement and whatever I do, I’ll be happy with it."

Balancing running and swimming hasn’t been easy for Chase, who said she runs every day and swims three times per week. Add to that a heavier work load at school as she enters her junior year and Chase fights to keep from getting burned out.

"I knew that I wanted to continue swimming because I had been pretty decent at it up until [I started running]," Chase said. "It’s been a little difficult trying to keep an adequate balance between running and swimming. I’m fortunate enough to have coaches that I can work with … because I just love to do both. Giving up one of them, I feel like, would not be beneficial to the other one."

Finding time to rest is important for Chase, who said she occasionally finds time for a social life.

"Most of my social life," she said, "probably involves my teammates, anyway."

In boys freestyle competition, Andrew Bernstein (Chesterbrook, 8U 25M, 16.22), Lachlan Flatin (High Point Pool, 9-10 50M, 31.6), Roman Lowery (Fairfax Station, 11-12, 28.09), Ben Lambert (Hayfield Farm, 13-14, 25.14) and Christopher Fiala (Sully Station, 15-18, 23.65) won their respective events. In girls free, Leaya Ma (Mosby Woods, 8U 25M, 16.07), Faith Lowery (Fairfax Station, 9-10 50M, 31.93), Lia Campbell (Crosspointe, 11-12, 28.65), Laura Branton (Oakton, 13-14, 27.84) and Laura Schwartz (Camelot, 15-18, 27.84) captured titles.

In boys backstroke, Anthony Grimm (Fair Oaks, 8U 25M, 18.17, Zachary Risseeuw (Vienna Woods, 9-10 50M, 37.09), Zander Abrams (High Point, 11-12, 31.4), Luke Thorsell (Fox Mill Woods, 13-14, 29.23) and Brandon Fiala (Sully Station, 15-18, 28.23) took first place in their respective events. In girls back, Leaya Ma (Mosby Woods, 8U 25M, 19.29), Sinead Eksteen (Shouse Village, 9-10 50M, 34.98), Amanda Peren (High Point, 11-12, 33.41), Maxine Clifford (Waynewood, 13-14, 31.84) and Reanna Dona (Waynewood, 15-18, 29.18) finished atop the standings.

In boys breaststroke, Bernstein (21.8), Flatin (41.16), Carter Flint (Tuckahoe, 11-12 50M, 36.19), Garrett Walsh (Hamlet, 13-14, 33.5) and Charles Katis (Highlands, 15-18, 29.13) took home titles. In girls breaststroke, Isabella Manzione (Fairfax, 8U 25M, 22.350, Alina Jones (Mantua, 9-10 50M, 42.6), Jacqueline Clabeaux (Greenbriar, 11-12, 36.5), Suzanne Dolan (Overlee, 13-14, 35.3) and Elizabeth Collins (Waynewood, 15-18, 34.64) won their respective events.

In boys butterfly, Anthony Grimm (Fair Oaks, 8U 25M, 16.8), Thomas Outlaw (Chesterbrook, 9-10 50M, 15.58), Lowery (30.2), Lambert (26.75) and Blake Sundel (Little Hunting Park, 15-18, 26.29) were winners. In girls fly, Annie Hood (Mansion House, 8U 25M, 19.01), Morgan Frueh (Mansion House, 9-10 50M, 16.5), Cassidy Bayer (Mount Vernon Park, 11-12, 30.17), Laura Branton (Oakton, 13-14 50M, 28.98) and Dona (Waynewood, 15-18, 29.1) finished atop their respective event standings.

Boys IM winners were: Daniel Gyenis (Fox Mill, 9-10 100M, 1:18.9), Timothy Wu (McLean, 11-12, 1:10.44), Luke Thorsell (Fox Mill Woods, 13-14, 1:04.22) and Brandon Fiala (1:00.43). Girls IM winners were: Eksteen (1:15.26), Bayer (1:10.64), Hannah Baker (Commonwealth, 13-14 100M, 1:08.75) and Schwartz (1:06.38).