BOULDER — To paraphrase a snippet from Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go”: “You’re off to great places, today is your day! Your pool is waiting, So … get on your way!”
Seems fitting for former Boulder state champion Christian Feiler, whose first year at Princeton went about as well as can be expected and when the opportunity arose to have a chance to qualify for the Olympics … yes this years Summer Game in Rio de Janiero … he tried.
“It’s been a fun ride,” Feiler said.
The biggest initial adjustment for Feiler, who dominated the Colorado swim scene for years — including a 50-yard freestyle title at the Class 5A meet in Colorado Springs in the spring of 2015 — upon his arrival at Princeton was simply figuring out rather quickly that he was no longer a big fish in a small Colorado pond, but a part of something much bigger.
“Thankfully, swimming is still swimming; but it is weird going from a team where you know everybody and you’ve known everyone in the area for so long to this huge nation-wide kind of competition,” said Feiler, whose posted three personal bests in the annual Princeton-Harvard-Yale meet at the end of January that helped the Tigers to their first win in that long rivalry since 2012.
“Everyone is just so fast, it was really eye opening.”
On an early season trip down to Florida, he entered the meet calm cool and collected and won the 50 free. It was his ‘a-ha’ moment that signalled that he was in fact in the right place and that future success was right around the corner.
Any doubt that he didn’t belong quickly dissipated and he started to settle in with what is a very young Tigers squad that should be in place for several years.
“The guys are the best part and are really the core of the whole Princeton experience so far,” he said. “Without them, it would be a completely different experience.”
Speaking of experiences, Feiler and his father Tom did their research and expanded Christian’s swimming to Europe. Christian’s grandparents had to leave Germany during World War II and that heritage is always something he has been proud of.
The Feilers decided to file for dual citizenship and, having already qualified for the trials in Berlin at a meet stateside — on the Princeton campus as a matter of fact— they took their chances and flew over for the meet.
“It was one of the fastest meets of the year this year and I think three German records fell,” said Feiler, who had qualified with the 11th fastest time in the 50 free. “It was a great experience.”
He didn’t have his best day for the 20 seconds he was in the water, ultimately finishing 25th overall in the event, but the experience and the chance to be in the water with some of the world’s best was worth it.
“It was probably the biggest meet I have ever been to,” said Feiler, who didn’t have the magnitude of the event click in until his arrival. “It didn’t really hit me until I got there, and then I saw all the signs saying ‘Road to Rio’ and the faces of (German) swimming like Paul Biedermann and then it hit me that this was really big time.”
Now with a taste and the proper training that he is getting not only here at home but at school, Feiler has not ruled out the chance to make the trip again in four years and try to make the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.