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Swimming: On heels of record-setting performance at U.S. Open, Naples' Erndl mak

Swimming: On heels of record-setting performance at U.S. Open, Naples' Erndl makes national team


Thursday, August 20, 2009


At an age when most swimmers are hanging up their Speedos, things just keep getting better for Erika Erndl.

After setting three meet records at the U.S. Open earlier this month, the 31-year-old Naples resident recently got the best news of her swimming career. An e-mail from USA Swimming officials Wednesday informed Erndl she has been named to the national team.

Making the U.S. team means Erndl will have access to three Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colo., as well as their coaches and technology. She’ll also receive funding for the bigger meets and train with some of the best swimmers in the world.

Erndl hopes making the national team is the first step to qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, which would make her a first-time Olympian at age 34.

“The people (on the national team) are the ones gearing up for the next Olympic trials, the Olympic hopefuls,” Erndl said. “It’s a big deal. It’s going to be a real breakthrough for me.”

The career boost came after Erndl swam a career meet at the U.S. Open in Federal Way, Wash., two weeks ago. She won the 100-meter freestyle in a meet record 54.59 seconds after also setting a meet record in the preliminaries.

Erndl set another record in the 200 freestyle preliminaries (1:59.16) only to have it broken in the finals. She swam faster in the finals but finished second in 1:58.92, just 0.11 seconds behind winner Samantha Tucker (1:58.81).

Her time in the 100 freestyle makes Erndl the seventh-fastest woman in the country in the event and the 33rd fastest in the world.

By the time the pool settled at the U.S. Open, Erndl had set personal records in all four of her events. She also finished sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:13.72) and won the B final of the 50 freestyle (25.57).

“I was relaxed. I went out with nothing to lose,” Erndl said. “I tried not to think too much about what I was doing. I just went for it. It was really great to finally break through to the top spot on the podium.”

Erndl’s U.S. Open championship made up for a performance at the U.S. Nationals a month earlier that left her satisfied but wanting more. As the third-oldest woman at nationals in Indianapolis in July, Erndl placed in the top 15 in three events but missed out on her goal of qualifying for the World Championships in Rome.

She knew she could swim faster, so Erndl regrouped. She returned to the YMCA Norris Pool in Naples and, along with husband and coach Kevin Erndl, tailored her training specifically for her individual events.

Erndl focused on generating as much power and speed in the pool as possible for the time length of each event. She also cut back aerobic training and began resistance training, which included swimming with a parachute attached to her.

“We introduced different stresses to her body while still allowing her to maintain technique,” said Kevin Erndl, who swam with his wife at the University of North Carolina. “I wasn’t surprised (at the U.S. Open). I knew she was capable of it. It was just a matter of all the pieces coming together at the right time.”

Though her dream continues to be to swim in the Olympics, Erndl can’t make any promises for 2012. With her national team training, she should continue to get faster, but Erndl only plans her swimming career one year at a time.

As long as she’s still enjoying herself, though, Erndl’s going to stay in the pool as long as possible.

“I’d like to say, ‘Absolutely I’m going to London in 2012,’ ” Erndl said. “I love the sport, I love what I do. If it ends up I’m not loving it every day, then I’m not going to do it anymore. At age 34 (in 2012), though, I won’t be too old.”

Follow prep sports reporter Adam Fisher at www.facebook.com/ndnadamfisher and twitter.com/ndn_afisher.

Article linked here: naplesnews.com