More than 400 swimmers from across the state and southwest Missouri traveled to the University of Arkansas to compete in the Northwest Arkansas Aquatics Neutrogena Winter Invitational. Whether the swimmers were eight or 18, their goals were the same.
"Personally some of my goals I have, this meet especially, since it is a prelim final meet and we are preparing for state," said Sharks swimmer Samuel Schaefer. "Prepare for state first of all and second of all I want to get some more junior national cuts."
"Usually everybody my age is going for state," said Aqua Hawgs swimmer Sage Halderman.
"At this meet I'm trying to get state for my 50 back stroke," said Aqua Hawgs swimmer Alayna Wicklund.
The swimmers may be competing but the coaches get just as much joy out of it.
"The funnest thing about coaching is watching these kids accomplish their goals," said Aqua Hawgs head coach Scott Berry. "(It's) Something they've worked hard for, for a long time and they finally make that break through."
"My mantra is always do your best," said Sharks head coach Steve Duwel. "I love to see them improving themselves. Not worrying so much about their place but their effort and their times."
Swimming is what these kids do, but being together is what they enjoy.
"I really enjoy being with my teammates and just cheering them on," said Eunsol Chon.
"I like being with the team," said Alexa Tininenko
Many swimmers qualified for junior nationals including Samuel Schaefer. They will travel to the Orlando YMCA aquatic center in Florida on March 18-22.