Here we go again!
As many of you are aware, I was one of three women over the age of 40 who qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials. I had such a blast the last time around, I decided to try and qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials.
After leaving The University of Georgia swim team and graduating from college, I stayed away from swimming for over 12 years. I was just burned out and tired of the pool. Luckily, I rediscovered my passion for swimming in my 30’s and never looked back!
Although I no longer went to the pool during those 12 years, my husband, Eric and I stayed active. We often ran and biked together. As I got older, however, I realized that running was hard on my body. I developed heel spurs and severe lower back pain. After struggling with the pain and discomfort for a few years, I finally listened to my body and decided I should try swimming again. After a little research, I discovered that there was a Masters swimming program in Raleigh. Eventually, I joined the Raleigh Area Masters (RAM) swim team. I was pretty sure that I would enjoy returning to the pool, but what surprised was how much I enjoyed the camaraderie of my teammates. After my first Masters swim meet, I was hooked! Soon I was back to tracking my times to measure my performance. As I saw my times improve, I became motivated to train harder and get faster. After being back in the pool for several years, I ultimately decided to try to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. With the help of my teammates, trainers and coaches, I was successful in achieving my goal, which is documented in this video Eric helped compile.
Following the 2012 Olympic Trials, I continued training and competing in both Masters and USA-Swimming meets. Over the last year or so I participated in several relays with my fellow Masters swimmers who set FINA Masters world records. I also set world records in five individual events while continuing to train and compete in USA-Swimming events with the Marlins of Raleigh (MOR). With the help of my MOR teammates and coaches, I qualified to compete at USA-S Sectional, Grand Prix and National meets across the country.
In September 2014, the 2016 Olympic Trials qualifying standards were announced. The qualifying time for the 50-meter freestyle is 26.19. In 2012, the qualifying time was 26.39. In a 50-meter sprint, improving by two tenths of a second is tough, especially at age 43. Even so, because I am feeling strong and still getting faster, I decided to try qualifying for the Olympic Trials one more time. Because I have never gone that fast, I know that swimming the 50 free in 26.19 seconds will be a challenge and will take more time and training than my 2012 effort.
Thankfully, Golden Corral generously granted me a six-month leave of absence from my job as the Director of Human Resources so that I can train full-time. Although I have until June 2016 to qualify, I am not getting any younger so I am trying to qualify as soon as possible. Between February and August, I will swim six days a week with both MOR and RAM. I will also strength train three days a week with Wade Harris. To stay healthy and maximize my training routine, nutritionist Jennifer Brunelli (http://sportsrdpro.com) is helping me maintain a proper diet.
The outpouring of support from my family, friends, co-workers and the community is so encouraging and means so much to me. Many of you asked that we provide updates during our journey. Eric is our official photographer and videographer, as well as my biggest fan. He has accumulated lots of articles, pictures and videos over the last few years. As I was developing my training plan for the 2016 Olympic Trials, he was hard at work planning how he would document my efforts. He bought new cameras and took a photography lesson. He also spent the last few months gathering and organizing information from our 2012 Olympic Trials experience. During that process, he spoke with some friends and they suggested putting it all on a website where we could share our experiences with family and friends. We really liked the idea and with help from Chris Buhler at MMI, we created this website so we can keep everyone updated on our latest journey.
We hope you enjoy the website and visit often. I will provide frequent (and shorter!) updates about my training, my progress and our travels around the country.