After competing for just one summer with the Payson Pikes swim team, Garret Chance knew he was hooked on the sport.
“That sparked his interest in swimming,” said his mother Cheryl. “His goal now is to make it to the Olympics.
“We don’t know if he will ever do it, but it’s his goal.”
Following his stint with the Pikes, a summer recreational team, Garret hooked up in October of 2010 with several other Payson youths on Swim Neptune, a Scottsdale-based year-round competitive club.
His training with Swim Neptune has catapulted him to the top of his sport with upcoming appearances at the USA Swimming Age Group State Championships and the AAU Junior Olympic Games.
The state championships will be held July 19 to 22 at Chandler High School and the JO competition in Pearland, Texas.
For the Junior Olympics, Garret will compete in a variety of events including freestyle, butterfly, individual medley, breaststroke and backstroke at distances from 50 to 400 meters.
In both competitions, Garret — who will be a seventh-grader at Rim Country Middle School next year — will be representing Swim Neptune in the 11-12 years age group.
Garret, his mom said, has also qualified for the Far Western Championships in California, but will not compete because the event conflicts with other meets in which he is already entered.
In Houston, he will be joined in the competition by Swim Neptune teammate Catalina Coppelli, also of Payson.
In July of 2011, after swimming competitively just one year, Garrett made his first appearance in the state championships competing in the 50-meter freestyle and finishing 49th overall and 23rd among the 11-year-olds.
At the time, Chris Giarrizzo — a parent who helped local swimmers join Swim Neptune — called his effort “a great race. He has so much to look forward to as he has another full year to compete in the 11-12 age group.”
Months later after watching Garret compete again, Giarrizzo said, “Garret’s hard work and dedication to the sport is starting to really pay off.”
As a member of Swim Neptune, Joe Zematis, head coach of the team that is the reigning state champion, guided Garret’s training.
The Payson swimmers, including Garret, made frequent trips to Scottsdale for practice, but also trained locally at the Tonto Apache Pool originally under coach Amity Justice and later Garret’s mother.