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State champion takes her mark

After a stellar performance at the All-Star State Championships, Kelly Hug is working even harder for the upcoming Junior Olympics.

By TERRY JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001


HUNTER'S GREEN -- Kelley Hug is used to winning, and adolescence is not about to stop her.

The 12-year-old champion swimmer soon will have to tackle a new level of competition poolside, but her performance at the All-Star State Championships suggests she is more than ready.

At the contest, held March 31 to April 1 in Fort Pierce, Hug captured the state championship in the 100-yard backstroke, won silver medals in both the 50 butterfly and backstroke and added a bronze in the 50 freestyle for ages 11-12.

Hug, who lives in Hunter's Green, is a member of the Team New Tampa swim team coached by Mitzi Kremer and Mark Tighe.

"Kelley has a determination to win you can see in her eyes as soon as she steps up to the starting blocks," Kremer said. "She is exciting to watch. Even when she is hurting, she battles past pain to focus on her swims. Right now she does best at sprints, but she turns 13 in June and will no longer have 25-yard races available. She is working on the transition to longer distances."

Hug trains at Hunter's Green Resort four, sometimes five, days a week to prepare for her next big meet. One big meet, the Junior Olympics, is the last weekend of July in Sarasota. Hug already has qualified in four events: the 100 backstroke, 100 and 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. The competition will be measured in meters, rather than yards, meaning she'll have to swim farther to reach the finish line.

"Kelley will have to learn to pace herself a little more to swim the longer distances, but she is working on that and is doing well," Kremer said. "She is one of the most competitive athletes I have seen."

Hug, a seventh-grader at Corpus Christi School in Temple Terrace, plans to finish eighth grade there, then transfer to Academy of Holy Names for high school.

A two-sport athlete, she plays soccer when she's not competing in the pool.

"I play soccer with the Under-13 Comets of the New Tampa Soccer Association," Hug said. "I enjoy soccer, but I feel I have a better chance for college in swimming. Hopefully I will do well in club (USA Swimming) and state level in high school swimming to earn a scholarship."

Hug is no slouch when it comes to school work, either. She makes high A's on all her subjects and did pretty well on the math SAT.

"I made 520 on the math part of the SATs and was selected to participate in the state recognition ceremony for seventh graders May 15 at the Sarasota campus of the University of South Florida," she said. "I also qualified for an academic camp, but instead I plan to spend the summer at the Mary Help of Christian Camp in Tampa. That is for many sports."

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