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Sandpipers again well-represented on international level

Like at last summer’s Olympic Games, Sandpipers of Nevada will be well-represented on the international stage.

Four current and two former Sandpipers will compete in swimming’s World Championships, which begins Friday in Budapest, Hungary, and coach Ron Aitken is an assistant. Aitken, the U.S. Club Coach of the Year, is the only club coach on the team.

“He was not named to the Olympic coaching staff last summer, and that caused a bit of a revolt amongst the swim coaches and teams in the U.S.,” Sandpipers assistant Jake Des Roches said. “For a club 18-under focused coach to be named to the World Championships or Olympics staffs is really a big deal and a rare occurrence. It happens under exceptional circumstances like this.”

Olympic Channel will televise the pool finals, which also will be streamed on Peacock. Preliminary and open-water events will be streamed at fina.org.

Sandpipers had four swimmers in last year’s Olympics in Tokyo, and they combined to capture a gold medal and two silvers. Two of those swimmers will be at the World Championships — 16-year-old Katie Grimes and 17-year-old Bella Sims.

Grimes, fourth in the Olympics in the 800-meter freestyle, will swim in the 1,500-meter freestyle, 400-meter individual medley and 10-kilometer open water. She is the only American competing in the pool and open water.

Sims, who has committed to Florida, will compete on the 4×200-meter freestyle relay team, the same event she took silver in last summer.

“For those two who went to the Olympics … can you take the experience that you had last year and improve upon that?” Des Roches said.

Also on the U.S. team is 15-year-old Claire Weinstein, who in September moved from the New York area to swim for Sandpipers. She will be in the 200-meter freestyle and 4×200-meter relay.

Abby Dunford, 16, nearly made the Canadian Olympic team, but COVID protocols on her return to the country affected her training. Dunford will swim for Canada in the 1,500-meter freestyle and 10-kilometer open water.

“Abby’s initial goal was the Canadian open water team for 2020 and not so much the pool,” Des Roches said. “Now she’s gotten to the point she’s competitive in both.”

On the men’s side, two Sandpipers alumni will swim for the U.S. Arizona State freshman Dylan Gravley, 19, will swim in the 10-kilometer open water. His brother, Florida junior Brennan Gravley, 21, will be in the 5K and 10K.

Not at the World Championships is Texas freshman Erica Sullivan, 21. Sullivan, who took silver last year in the 1,500-meter freestyle, suffered a minor shoulder injury.

Sullivan and the Gravley brothers went to Palo Verde High School.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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