July 6, 2016
Before you hear all about the meet in Sarah's own words, I just want to preface this by saying what a privilege it was for me to attend Olympic Trials this year. Only 1,800 out of the 400,000 swimmers in the US met the qualifying times to compete at Trials, and it is a learning experience for me as a coach to see the very best of the best up close and personal. Sarah did a wonderful job handling the pressure of the moment, swimming a lifetime best in her 200 breaststroke (breaking her own team record) and her fastest ever preliminary/morning 100 breast. Although her 100 was a little slower than her best time, it was good enough to move her up 9 places overall and is the 2nd fastest performance in team history. The atmosphere at Trials is like no other meet, and to be a part of it just makes me want to do it again in 2020 with our next group of amazing athletes!
Here's what Sarah had to say about her experience:
This last week I had the privilege of attending one of the fastest meets in America. Every four years the fastest swimmers in the country gather at one meet and compete for a 1st & 2nd place finishes in their event to punch their ticket to the Olympics. This extremely fast and competitive meet brings out some extremely fast swimming. Already, there have been a few American records and what looks like good chances for World Records in Rio. The experience was truly amazing in watching the seasoned olympians make their returns and also the number of new Olympic berths. Whether I was 2 feet from Phelps or Lochte or getting kicked in warmups by Connor Dwyer, it could get overwhelming at times. I just needed to realize that it is the same events that you practice for everyday, and that everyone simply wants to swim their best. .
Besides witnessing some very fast swimming, all of the athletes competing were treated almost like royalty behind the scenes. Walk into the athletes lounge and there was an endless supply of chocolate milk, you could grab a protein bar or fruit, sit with therapy dogs, get a smoothie, play xbox or ping pong, watch TV on huge bean bags, or go get a complimentary massage. The amenities were over the top amazing and nothing like I have experienced before. It was such an amazing thing to watch swimming be highlighted and witness a city embrace a meets presesence.
After enjoying all of this, I realized that I actually needed to swim and focus on my races. I warmed up in a huge 14 lane pool raised off the floor of the convention center. I then proceeded to the ready room (since this meet is televised it would look unofficial and overcrowded to have swimmers line up on the pool deck). Every heat is paraded out much like how they do in finals at bigger meets. After entering the room, I went through a logo check, then took a seat. The ready room is one of the most intense places in the arena. I could almost feel the nervous energy in the air. I was then lined up and about to go into the arena. As I was going out I was blinded by the arena lights and had to ignore the 16,000 people in the crowd. I added a bit in my 100 and dropped in my 200. It was great to experience the level of competition and inspired me to continue going to these sizes of meets.
Olympic Trials has been a goal of mine ever since I have joined CAST, and with the amazing help of my coaches, parents, and friends, I was able to achieve my dream. I encourage even the younger swimmers to set long term goals which may include attending this event. If this has taught me anything, it is the importance of goal setting. There were so many times that I didn't want to get up at or want to miss practice, that this goal got me through. I encourage all swimmers to look ahead and train their hearts out and I guarantee you there will be support and help along the way. I had such great support from my teammates before I left and while I was there. I can't thank them enough. So, with hardwork and dedication, who will represent CAST in 2020?