Jamie Grimes is legally blind, cannot wear contact lenses and has difficulty seeing all but his closest opponents while in the pool. But, as he demonstrated last night at the Potomac Valley Swimming Long Course Senior Championships, that rarely is a problem.

Grimes, a graduate of Sherwood High who will be a junior at Virginia, took a four-length lead after the first two laps, lapped two competitors and glided to victory in the 1,500-meter freestyle in 15 minutes 57.14 seconds at George Mason University. The time qualified Grimes, 20, for next month's national championships.

"I'm really happy. That was my best time by nine seconds," said Grimes, who also has qualified for nationals in the 400 and 800 freestyles. "I've been training really well. I'm here to swim for nationals, to see how my timing was going in. I'm very pleased with the meet."

Competitive senior swimmers such as Grimes use this event to gauge their performance against elite athletes from around the area. The tough competition also can help swimmers boost their times to national-qualifying and Olympic trial-qualifying standards. The event was held over four days at the George Mason University Aquatic and Fitness Center, which opened in October and was hosting its first major meet.

The evening's closest race was the women's 200 butterfly, in which training partners Lauren Stinnett and Molly Freedman pushed each other to the wall, each qualifying for next year's Olympic trials.

Stinnett, who graduated from South Lakes in June and will train for a year before attending Southern Methodist in Dallas, won in 2:14.96. All-Met and Sidwell Friends graduate Freedman finished in 2:15.54, and Rebecca Harper, the third-place finisher, also qualified for the Olympic trials in 2:15.68.

"I've been having a hard time recovering between prelims and finals," Stinnett said. "But I pushed myself this morning, and the fact that I was able to swim well tonight is a big confidence booster. I'm really happy."

There were just two other Olympic trials-qualifying times posted over the weekend. Brian Walters, 23, bested a much younger field by more than 10 seconds in the 200 backstroke, finishing in 2:04.18. Saturday, Lake Braddock graduate and Virginia sophomore Ed Moses, 19, won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:18.69. Moses returned to competitive swimming for his senior year in high school and finished runner-up in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke at this year's NCAA championships.

The meet's club title went to local swimming power Curl-Burke, which boasts Stinnett, Freedman and Walters and won the event by almost 400 points over NOVA of Richmond.

CAPTION: Occoquan swim club's Bethany Lindberg pushes on in 200-meter backstroke during the Potomac Valley Swimming Long Course Senior Championships.