Jul 9, 2013, 12:05 PM EST
Junior swimmer Emma Reaney (’15) recently took to the pool for the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championship in Indianapolis. Here is the experience in her words…
A couple of weeks ago I took the short trek down to Indianapolis to compete in the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships/World Championship Trials. For you non-swimmers, I will translate that for you. This meet served as the selection meet for World Championships in Barcelona at the end of the month, a lot like Olympic Trials is where swimmers qualify for the Olympic Team. The process is pretty much the same: the fastest two men and women from each Olympic event get to compete for our country in Spain against the other countries of the world. This means the best swimmers in the country were at their prime for this meet, which made it incredibly fun and exciting to be a part of.
My coaches didn’t want me missing a lot of school for this (of course I didn’t mind missing a few classes) so I drove down Thursday afternoon and competed in the 100-meter breaststroke on Friday and the 200-meter individual medley (IM) on Saturday. The meet had been going on since Tuesday, but five days is a long time when you’re not quite in shape yet (oops) so my coaches and I decided two events were enough for me. I didn’t rest or taper for this meet so I went into it thinking I was most likely going to embarrass myself. Somehow, after spending a good 15 minutes getting into my torture-device of a suit, I managed to get a personal-best time in prelims and then again in finals of the 100 breast and placed 11th overall which I was pretty darn happy with. My 200 IM didn’t come quite as easy as my first event and at the end of the day I had added a second and come in 11th once again.
My teammate Kelly Ryan (’14) had been at the meet swimming for her home club team before I got into town and we overlapped Friday morning, which was a blast. It’s always good to have a buddy at meets like this and I couldn’t have picked a better one. We have this weird ritual before each of our races where we just look at each other and nod and for some reason it really calms me down. I think it’s because we know we believe in one another and I know ‘Kel’ will always be there cheering for me even if I swim horribly, which is really cheesy, but whatever, as long as it works.
After going to two Olympic Trials, two NCAA Championships and a handful of other national level meets, the nerves about being on such a big stage kind of just disappear and I get the opportunity to enjoy myself without feeling like a total rookie. My club coach back in Lawrence (Kan.) used to tell me, “You can get everyone’s (all the Olympians) autographs and pictures once, but after that you have to realize that you made it here just the same as them and it’s anyone’s ball game.” This has really set in over the past couple of years and those wise words have helped me have the most fun I’ve ever had at a meet (Olympic Trials 2012 in Omaha). I’ve really started to realize that I’m qualified to come to these meets too and there’s no reason to be intimidated or nervous to race against the best. That’s how I felt this weekend and granted, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to beat two-time Olympic medalist Elizabeth Beisel in the 200 IM this time, but it was still a great feeling to feel like a seasoned veteran at this kind of meet. On a side note, I’ve also become friends with Ryan Lochte so joking around and making weird faces with him is awesome. Seeing him in a speedo doesn’t necessarily stink either.
Outside of the pool, nothing major happened. I did get to spend a lot of quality time alone with my head coach Brian Barnes, which, if you’ve met him you would know is hilarious and a little nutty all the time. He knows everyone on the pool deck from his many years in coaching so I shook “a million” hands and made some new friends. One of my campers, Matthew, from our ND Swim Camp came to the meet and made me a sign. It was the most adorable thing. It was really nice to see him smiling and giving me the “thumbs up” up there, especially since my family couldn’t make it.
All in all, I left the meet satisfied with my times and excited about the rest of the summer. I will be swimming in Irvine, California at the end of July in the US Open, another National meet, which I will be tapering and resting for. I think I need meets like these where I can have fun and just swim and not have to worry about points or places to remind me that no matter how psychotic and grueling it can be, I really do love the sport of swimming.
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