Mountain Pointe junior Clara Jenck returned home this summer and found a unique training opportunity.
Every two years Jenck heads back to France to see family.
It's a great time to catch up, reminisce and get a chance to revisit the culture of the country in which she was born.
What it is not is a time to take a break from swimming.
"I couldn't go that long without training," said Jenck, who moved to Ahwatukee Foothills when she was 3 years old. "I was away from my club team, but I couldn't go without training at all."
She has dual citizenship so Jenck felt it was a good chance to make herself known to the coaches in France in case she is able to continue her career at the international level.
Jenck trained for two weeks - one in Paris and the other in Perpignan - and basically had one-on-one coaching because the national team was in Shanghai, China, for the 14th FINA World Championships.
"It was a different type of training, but it was good" she said. "They don't focus on intervals, jut pace. I learned a lot."
More importantly it gave her a chance to possibly grow into the ultimate competitor for her home country.
"If you look at it from an Olympic point of view, there are less people there and it would be easier to qualify for the Olympic team," she said. "I'm far from it, but at least I know it is a possibility."
Jenck's main events are the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. There is a possibility that she could enter some 500 freestyle events this year as well.
"She can be just as strong in the 500," Mancuso said before the season. "We might stretch her out and see what she can do. We are unsure of how we are going to use her yet, but Clara will be strong no matter where we put her."
Jenck, who competed for Sun Devils Aquatics in club season, proved to be one of the state's best sophomores last season as she finished third in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1 minute and 51.91 seconds and third in the 100 backstroke in 57.41 at the Division I state meet.
She was the top seed in the 100 back, but didn't finish it off in the finals as Chaparral's Leticia Lelli and Xavier's Talie Anchustegui took first and second, respectively.
"I wasn't upset because I know them and they are good friends," Jenck said. "I was happy overall (with her performance at state). I made the junior national (time) cut, but I know I have to get better each year."
Jenck, who was on the Pride's 200 medley and 400 freestyle medal-winning relay teams, said she is working on her tempo and turns to make sure she continues to progress.
"This is a big year for me," Jenck said. "Third place was good as a sophomore, but I don't want to settle for that. I know I can do better."
The same can be said for the Pride's team after Mountain Pointe finished sixth at the state meet last year with the new divisional alignment.
"We have a lot of talent," Jenck said. "It's early and we are still building stamina, trying to figure out our (events), but we want to finish higher at state."
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