Terrific Trio Of Rim Country Swimmers Pace Valley Team


Julie Gibson, 14, (above) prepares for a race at a sectional competition held in Florida. Garret Chance, 11, (below) prepares for his next race at the regional championships held in Kingman.

Julie Gibson, 14, (above) prepares for a race at a sectional competition held in Florida. Garret Chance, 11, (below) prepares for his next race at the regional championships held in Kingman.

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Superlative efforts churned out by Payson swimmers Julie Gibson, Emily Giarrizzo and Garret Chance helped their Scottsdale-based team, Swim Neptune, win its second consecutive Arizona State Long Course Championship.

The state finals were contested July 23 and 24 at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa.

The three Rim Country youth qualified for swimming’s big show by meeting state qualifying times at regional championships held a week earlier in Kingman.

Garret, 11, who has been swimming competitively for just one year, was making his first-ever appearance in the state championships.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Giarrizzo

Julie Gibson, one of the state’s best freestyle swimmers, is off and into the water at sectionals.

Julie, 14, and Emily, 11, were making their fourth appearance in the Arizona finals.

For Julie, the highlight of the state performance probably occurred during the anchor leg of the 400-meter medley relay.

With Swim Neptune’s team clinging to third place in the race, Julie turned on the afterburners in the final 25 meters to overtake the swimmer ahead of her and earn her team a silver medal.

Chris Giarrizzo, Emily’s mother and a Payson woman who has been at the forefront of bringing year-round competitive swimming to the Rim Country, called Julie’s performance “amazing” and the race “very exciting and close.”

In addition to the Team Neptune foursome winning the silver at 400 meters, the team was also fourth in the 200 freestyle relay, sixth in the 800 freestyle relay and third in the 200 medley relay.

“The team had a successful weekend,” said Giarrizzo.

In the individual freestyle events, Julie was fifth in both the 100 meters and 50 meters and 16th in the 200 meters.

“She is proving to be a strong freestyler,” Giarrizzo said.

Julie was also 17th in the 50-meter backstroke, just missing a finals berth that goes out to the top 16.

Garret competed in the 50-meter freestyle and turned in what Giarrizzo is calling “a great race.” He was 49th overall and 23rd among the 11-year-olds.

“Garret has much to look forward to as he has another full year to compete in his 11-12 age group,” said Giarrizzo.

For Emily, the state finals turned into a story of personal records.

In the 400 individual medley, she knocked 20 seconds off her PR to finish 24th overall and sixth among the 11-year-olds. She also set PRs in the 100-meter breaststroke and in the breaststroke of the 200-meter medley.

In the 100 breaststroke she was 10th among the 11-year-olds and 36th overall.

She also competed on Swim Neptune’s 400 and 200 freestyle teams.

It was in the 50 freestyle that he swam a state qualifying time while finishing third overall.

“This is a big accomplishment for such a new swimmer,” said Giarrizzo.

He was second in the breaststroke but did not turn in a state qualifying time.

Superlative efforts churned out by Payson swimmers Julie Gibson, Emily Giarrizzo and Garret Chance helped their Scottsdale-based team, Swim Neptune, win its second consecutive Arizona State Long Course Championship.

The state finals were contested July 23 and 24 at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Giarrizzo

Payson swimmers Garret Chance and Emily Giarrizzo surround Scottsdale Swim Neptune coach Joe Zemaitis.

He, however, improved his PR by 6.59 seconds, “and is making tremendous progress towards the state (qualifying) time,” said Giarrizzo. “Garret’s hard work and dedication to the sport is starting to really pay off.”

Garret’s younger brother, Blair, 9, also swam at regionals and set PRs in the 50 breaststroke and 50 backstroke.

For Julie, the regional meet was her final appearance as she will turn 15 in the fall and move up to the Seniors Division where she will compete in the 15 years and older age division.

In Kingman, she met state qualifying times in five events and earned berths on several relay teams.

Currently in her age group, she is ranked fourth in the state in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 50 freestyle.

Emily, who has been a competitive swimmer since she was 5 years old, competed in 13 regional events earning six medals including four gold.

Like Garret, her future appears promising because she has another year to compete in her 11-12 age group.

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