Sometimes, winning isn’t everything.
For Fairview’s Sandra Freeman this past week at the Speedo Western Section Championships, finishing first in the 400 individual medley among a group of elite athletes was almost an afterthought.
But her heart truly leapt when the scoreboard at the Gresham, Oregon pool flashed her time of 4 minutes, 53.95 seconds. In that moment, Freeman realized she had achieved her Olympic Trials cut in the race to fulfill a longtime goal.
“That Olympic Trials time has been a goal of mine, I think since I was 12, so making that was so, so exciting and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Freeman said on Monday after returning to Colorado. “This whole next year, I am just excited to train hard and see what I can do at the trials.”
The Fairview High School senior-to-be wasn’t always convinced she’d get the mark of 4:54.99, but after coming within 1 second of it at a Arena Pro Series meet in Santa Clara, Calif., last month, there was a boost in confidence that shaving nine-tenths was possible.
She did that, and then some, at the Oregon meet. By doing so, she joined Sarah Fischer, Kristen Lahey, Madeline Rovira and Abbie Houck as FHS athletes who qualified for Olympic Trials while still in high school.
“I was about 2 1/2 seconds off for about two years, and then at that meet in Santa Clara I went 4:55 and I realized how close I actually was,” Freeman said. “Winning the race was icing on the cake, but all I really wanted was that cut. All the support from all my coaches and teammates has helped me get the confidence I needed, and when I dove into the pool I just knew I could do it.”
Her ticket is punched to compete in the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., from June 26 through July 3, 2016 — a meet that serves as the sole qualifier for the Rio de Janeiro Games. Freeman joins Centaurus’ Haley Rowley, who had established her Trials cuts at a meet in Austin, Texas, during the girls high school season.
Having put all her focus in the 400 IM, Freeman said there is not another race that she is on the cusp of in terms of the Olympic Trails. But as she’s shown, one good race could lead to another, and she’ll have a chance to eclipse more personal bests at the Speedo Junior Nationals in San Antonio.
“I’m not super close on any of my other races, but I would love to make another race and the 200 is a swim I could see myself coming close,” she said.
Just prior to the Western Sectionals, the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (NISCA) released their lists of high school All-Americans for 2014-15, and several Fairview High and Boulder High athletes dotted the list.
Among them were, from Fairview, Michael Zarian (200 IM, 500 free); Brittany Beetcher (200 free, 500 free); the Knights’ 200 medley girls relay team (Julia Box, Sydney Andrew, Sienna Stonesmith, Michaela Mullison); and the Knights’ 400 free girls relay team (Box, Beetcher, Cailen Chinn, Jessie Li.
From Boulder High, Christian Feiler and Chris Nicholson earned the awards individually — Feiler in the 50 free and 100 free, Nicholson in the 100 backstroke. The Panthers 200 medley boys relay (Feiler, Nicholson, PJ Stapleton, Mick Batholomew) and 400 free boys relay (Feiler, Stapleton, Nicholson, Batholomew) also were recognized.
Silver Creek’s Tyler Lis was recognized for his 200 IM time.
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