Valerie Gruest Slowing, an incoming freshman at Northwestern University, qualified for her first Olympic Games at the RBC Bahamas National Championship held last week in Nassau. Slowing, who represents Guatemala internationally, also set four Guatemalan National Records en route to her Olympic qualifying marks.
Slowing has officially monopolized the Guatemalan National Records board, where her name now appears seven times on the long course side (100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles, and 100 and 200 butterflies), in addition to five times on the short course side (100 and 200 freestyles, and 50, 100, and 200 butterflies).
Slowing will be the third member of her family to represent Guatemala as a swimmer in the Olympic Games. Her mother, Karin Slowing, swam the 100 meter butterfly in Los Angeles in 1984, though she did not advance beyond the prelims. In 2004 Melanie Slowing, Valerie’s aunt, qualified to swim the 50 meter freestyle in Athens. Though she did not advance beyond prelims in Athens, her Guatemalan National Record of 26.89, which she posted at the 2004 Central American and Caribbean Championships, still stands.
Slowing’s times from Nassau are as follows:
– 800 free: FINA ‘A’ Cut, Open National Record (8:33.28)
– 400 free: FINA ‘B’ Cut, Open National Record (4:10.80)
– 200 free: FINA ‘B’ Cut, Open National Record (2:02.01)
– 100 free: Open National Record (58.41)
A well-rounded aquatic athlete, Slowing has also competed at the international level in surfing and paddle boarding. In 2015 Slowing was named the Rookie Athlete of the Year by the Sports Writers’ Association of Guatemala for her dominance in the water.
If Slowing swims every event that she has qualified for in Rio, she will swim on Sunday, August 7th (400 free, P/F), Monday, August 8th (200 free, P/SF), and Thursday, August 11th (800 free, P/F). Were Slowing to advance to the finals of the 200 free she would also swim on Tuesday, August 9th. The Olympic Games begin August 5th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and will be broadcast on NBC.