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Clawson qualifies for state meet

After falling just shy last year, Kaleb Clawson would not be denied a chance to swim on the biggest stage of his high school career.
Clawson, a senior at Unicoi County High School, recently qualified for the Tennessee Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association state meet in February 2016 by earning a spot in the 100-fly competition.
The Blue Devil swimmer qualified for the state with the Barracuda swim team, based out of Johnson City, during a recent competition at the Aquatic Center in Kingsport.
“Coach Chris (Coraggio) told me to pack my bags and that I was going to state with them,” Clawson told The Erwin Record. “I was very excited.”
Clawson is the first Unicoi County athlete to qualify for the TISCA state meet since Lady Blue Devil graduate Katie Garrabrant went to the event in back-to-back years (2013-2014), during her time with the Barracudas.
Clawson nearly punched his ticket last year during the inaugural year of the UCHS swim team for head coach Jonathan Kenney. Since his junior year, Clawson hit the pool to prepare for this season, he said.
“I’ve been working and training extremely hard since March of this year,” Clawson added. “I was real close to state last year. I just love to swim and my mindset was to train and do the best I could. If I could go to state, that would have been great, but if I didn’t I would just continue to keep training as hard as I could.”
The selfless attitude of the Blue Devil shows when discussing the future of the swim team at UCHS.
“I really hope the UCHS swim team will grow,” Clawson said. “It is an extremely competitive sport and I hope UCHS continues the swim team and encourages the swimmers. I want people to know that even though this is a small town, we can look forward to the future and accept other sports into our community.”
While providing support to his teams in Unicoi and Washington counties, Clawson said he appreciated the guidance from his coaches.
“Coach Kenney has been very supportive in my swimming,” he explained. “He stands behind me and if I ever need him, he’s always there for me and I really appreciate that. It means a lot to have a supportive coach on your side.
“I also train with the Barracuda swim team at Freedom Hall with coach Coraggio. I train in the mornings at the Unicoi County YMCA in Erwin, lift weights daily and then after school I go to Science Hill to train with the Barracuda swim team. This has been my workout daily since March of this year.”
Clawson said he is looking forward to the future beyond the state meet.
“I want to continue swimming and just see what the future holds for me with college,” he said. “I just love to swim and I want to continue to be the best I can be at it. I’d like to thank my coaches, family, teachers and friends that have supported me in all my swim events this year.”
Clawson wraps up the regular season with meets on Dec. 3 and 10 before representing UCHS in the regional event in January in Kingsport. The state meet in February will be held in Knoxville.