Brother and sister set personal bests at swimming nationals

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by Pavitra Rengarajan

Last Thursday through Saturday, from December 3 to 5, Jessica Khojasteh (11) and Kevin Khojasteh (10) traveled to Federal Way, Washington to participate in the 2009 AT&T Short Course National Championships for swimming.

A total of nine team members including Kevin and Jessica from De Anza Cupertino Aquatics (DACA), along with coaches, attended the event, for which all participants needed to reach a qualifying score.

“Our goal was basically to get best time,” Jessica said. However, after the controversy about whether or not swimmers should be able to wear special technical suits that help them float in water, the suits were banned.

“We had to go in with normal suits, so it’s nice knowing that we beat our best time on our own and not because of the suits,” Jessica said.

Overall, the DACA team finished seventh in the Club Division at the Short Course Nationals. Among the achievements was the Women’s 200 Freestyle Relay, where Jessica and three teammates combined to finish 14th. Kevin participated in the Men’s 400 Medley Relay Team, also finishing 14th.

“We were satisfied with our performance,” Kevin said.

Their achievements reflected the hours of practice they put in regularly. Jessica and Kevin practice every day except Sunday for two and a half hours in the afternoon and from Tuesday to Thursday, an additional hour in the morning.

Over the three days, the team went out for food, although the weekend mainly consisted of “sleeping, swimming, and eating.”

“Usually if we get there a day early we would do some team bonding, but we didn’t do it this time,” Jessica said. “We hung out in the free time, but we were mostly taking naps or eating.” The team was overall much more supportive rather than competitive, according to the Jessica and Kevin.

“[The best part] was just the experience and the atmosphere as well as just hanging out and talking and having fun,” Jessica said.

Both siblings found the meet to be inspirational.

“There were college swimmers there too,” Kevin said. “It gives us something to look up to.”

“It was a good experience seeing everyone else there and watching them swim,” Jessica said. “It’s inspirational in a way.”

Although going to nationals, an event they were both excited for, did not particularly change their goals, they said they plan on “continuing to target best times.”

Both have ambitious long-term goals, though. In addition to continuing swimming throughout college, Jessica wants to make Olympic trials, and Kevin hopes to make it to the Olympics. “Even if you don’t make the team, it’s just the experience,” Jessica said.

They were able to see the other swimmers out there and learn from them.

“Even though it’s a national meet, there are so many others who are better than us,” Kevin said. “You have to work hard to be where they are.”