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Soaking up the experience

It was nothing quite like Evelyn Bucci had experienced before.

Here she was at the Pacific Swims Short Course Junior Olympic Championships in San Ramon in an event with thousands of elite participants, in a sport she only started in earnest a little more than two years ago.

And there were several differences from meets she normally takes part in.

A huge difference, Bucci noticed, was the swimming lanes, which went 20 lanes.

Normally, the 12-year-old Crescent City Sharks Swim Club member swims in competitions with five lanes in an indoor pool. In San Ramon she was swimming outdoors in freezing cold water in foggy conditions.

For Bucci, it was a unique experience she's glad she took part in.

"It was fun," Bucci said. "It was a good experience just to know what to expect the next time so I can be more prepared."

Bucci competed at the event as one of the first swimmers from Crescent City in many years to qualify for a Junior Olympics event.

She took part on Friday in the 50-yard freestyle in the girls 11-12 division.

Out of thousands of swimmers in California in her division she was one of only 63 in her age division to quality for the event by swimming at a meet in Eureka this month with a time of 28.60 seconds. A minimum time of 28.89 is required to compete in the Junior Olympic event.

On Friday, she placed 60 out of 63 swimmers with a time of 29.16.

For Bucci and Sharks swim coach Ron Radison, to even compete in such an event was an honor in itself.

"I'm extremely proud of her. I've couldn't ask any more from her," Radison said. "Just to make it is so difficult. There are thousands of swimmers in the state that compete in her division. Making it is the first step."

To Radison, this experience showed her what it takes to do well against top competition. Radison believes Bucci will use this experience to improve and make it to another Junior Olympic event in the future.

Bucci said it is certainly one of her goals and she hopes she will obtain it.

Her mother, Kristin Bucci, said the entire family, including Evelyn's three siblings, drove down to the Bay Area to watch her compete.

She said she was proud of the way her daughter competed and earned the right to compete at a Junior Olympics event.

"She took it all in," she said, adding the experience will only help her daughter as her swim career continues. "If she wants to compete at that level she now knows what she has to do."

Bucci has said she loves swimming and plans to continue the sport, which she started when a friend invited her to an an open house at a swim club when she lived in Arcata.

She has been a member of the Sharks for a year and a half.

"It's amazing how far she has come in a couple of years," Kristin Bucci said.

Evelyn's time as a member of the Sharks is coming to an end. She and her family are moving to the Fortuna area the end of this month.

Radison hopes Bucci will still be able to compete at the team's annual swim meet, which tentatively takes place May 31 and June 1st at the Fred Endert Municipal Swimming pool.

The event occurring on these dates is still up in the air due to potential pool renovations that could take place at that time, depending on a decision from the Crescent City City Council.

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