If there’s a budding Jenny Thompson in Payson, it’s Emily Giarrizzo.
The comparison is because the 9-year-old Giarrizzo has already shown some of the talent and grit that Thompson displayed in winning eight Olympic gold medals.
Most recently, the Payson girl competed in the Gilbert Swim Championships and on Aug. 1 she and her Payson Pikes teammates will enter the Verde Valley Invitational.
Last year at the invitational, Giarrizzo won three events to bring home the overall high point trophy for her age group.
Next year, as a 10-year-old, she will hook up with the USA Swim organization to compete in regional meets around the Southwest.
In Gilbert, Giarrizzo swam well, but did not medal partly because she was competing mostly against swimmers a year older and more seasoned than her. More than 100 fledgling swimmers entered her age group.
“She is optimistic that next year she will be in medal contention since the 10-year-olds she raced this year will be moving up to the 11-12 (years) bracket,” said her mother Chris Giarrizzo.
At Gilbert in the 100-meter freestyle, Emily Giarrizzo clung to third place most of the race, but was passed at the finish and fell to fourth overall.
She, however, was the fastest 9-year-old in the event.
The Payson swimmer entered the 50 meters breaststroke clinching a No. 8 seed, but swam her way to fourth and was second among the 9-year-olds.
In the 100 medley, a race in which she won the gold medal last summer, Giarrizzo got off to a great start, but when her goggles filled up with water midway through the race, she was forced to stop and adjust them. That set her back to about sixth place before she rallied to finish second in the heat.
Giarrizzo’s dedication to the sport turns evident in her practice routine that includes early morning year-round sessions at the Tonto Apache swimming pool with training partner Sharon Strople.