The season ended in March for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, which finished in first and second place, respectively, in the Ivy League. But a handful of swimmers are training as intensively as ever this spring as they prepare to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials June 25– July 2.
Nine Princeton men and four women are eligible to compete at the Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb., and a few others are training alongside them in hopes of reaching the qualification times. These swimmers committed to a rigorous program designed by Princeton’s coaches — nine practices a week, some starting at 7 a.m., along with weight training.
“It’s tough, trying to go through senior spring and also trying to focus on swimming after a lot of my friends have finished,” said Colin Cordes ’12. “It’s nice to have the other guys on the team to keep going with.”
The nominal goal of training for the trials is to qualify for the London Olympics. But for the majority of competitors — including Princeton’s contingent — that objective is a major reach. Only the top two finishers in each event (plus four others in some races, to fill relay teams) will advance to the Olympic Games; as of May, no Princeton swimmers were seeded in the top 40 of any event. Mostly, the swimmers are training to showcase their talents in a high-profile venue.
Megan Waters ’11 — who worked with the women’s swim team as a volunteer assistant this season and is the only alum in the Princeton training group — is Princeton’s highest-seeded racer, ranked 43rd nationally in the 50-meter freestyle. Lisa Boyce ’14 is 58th in the 100-meter backstroke and 62nd in the 100-meter freestyle, while Daniel Hasler ’14 is 52nd in the 400-meter individual medley.
“It would be really cool to make it even to semifinals, but right now I’m just going to see how I can race in that kind of high-pressure environment and have fun with it,” said Boyce, who placed in the top 40 in two events at the NCAA Championships in March.
The Olympic trials will be a new experience for all the Princeton swimmers except one: Meredith Monroe ’12, who qualified for the 200-meter backstroke in 2008 and finished 44th. Monroe will swim in the same event this year.
“It was overwhelming. It was the biggest audience I’d ever swum in front of,” Monroe said. “Having it under my belt once is going to be very helpful. Hopefully it will make me less nervous.”
The swimmers will compete as individuals, but they said they felt lucky to have a group of training partners to lean on for motivation.
“It’s a lot easier to wake up at 6 in the morning and head down to the pool when you know that you’re going to have 15 guys down there doing it with you,” Hasler said. “Swimming is a sport where you have to have teammates because it’s just too hard to do on your own.”