The Ashland Beacon
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers J.J. Holmes and Reece Pennington were selected for the opportunity to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in October. The Kentucky team will consist of 30 athletes made up of 15 males and 15 females.
There are five males and five females in the age groups of 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18-year-olds selected for the honor of training at the Olympic Center. In order to make the training team, students had to apply. Although any swimmer can apply, only the top five highest scoring athletes in each age group of each gender are selected. All of the student’s times from March 1 to August 13 of this year were taken into consideration.
Seventeen-year-old J.J. Holmes has consistently placed in the top 10 in the state in all of his swim races over the last year. He usually places in the top three, according to Coach Ryan Ferguson. This is especially true in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races, which Ferguson considers to be Holmes’ best events.
Ferguson said that fourteen-year-old Reece Pennington also consistently places in the top 10 in all of his events. His two best events are the 800-meter freestyle and “the mile,” the 1,500-meter freestyle. He consistently places in the top three in the longer races.
Holmes and Pennington will train with other athletes from across the state of Kentucky in what Coach Ferguson considers to be a great facility at a high altitude. He feels that it will be a great experience for them. They will have the opportunity to train with swimmers that they usually compete against, so they can see how the others work and train differently than the swimmers here in Ashland. d
The boys will also get to train with different coaches from around Kentucky. The coaches are selected to be a part of the training team before the swimmers are chosen. There will also be Team USA coaches present at all of the practices. Coach Ferguson expects Holmes and Pennington to experience some of the hardest practices that they’ve ever had at the Olympic facility.
Although Holmes has expressed a desire to try out for the 2020 Olympic team, his times for this summer and his time at the Olympic Training Center will not count towards the qualification times that he will need to compete for a spot on the national team. The 2020 Olympic qualification period does not begin until the end of November and will continue until June 2020. The time standards for qualifying will be released in September so Holmes will know the times that he will need to beat by the time he walks into the Olympic Training Center in October.