Kevlyn Richards, about to enter her senior year on the Seattle University swim team, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 meter breaststroke. In the first of a series of articles about the experience, Richards talks about the process of qualifying for the Trials and what she has done in the two weeks since she posted the necessary mark.
It is Sunday, June 24, and I am on my way to Omaha, Neb., to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials. The story does not begin here; it started three months ago in my first attempt to qualify. The qualifying mark for the 100 meter breaststroke was 1:12.19, and my previous best was a 1:13.8. I knew that qualifying would be a long shot, but swimming is a sport of miracles and breakthroughs where anything is possible. In my first attempt, I had an amazing race and went 1:12.64, dropping over a second and coming within .4 seconds off the cut.
After coming so close to the cut, I knew I wanted to do everything I could to get it. I swam in two more meets and came as close as .2 seconds off. I even raced against Olympic gold medalist Megan Jendrick, who became a friend and supporter. Now Olympic Trials was two weeks out and I had one more meet to swim in on Saturday, June 9. Ironically, the name of the meet was Last Chance for Glory. I had my family, friends, and coaches supporting me along the way and at the meet. This was it.
I posted a time of 1:12.4, just missing the cut again. I was sad that I was so close but could not get it. After my race, my coaches Craig Nisgor and Katherine Kubancik informed me that they were doing time trials at the end of the meet for those who were close to the cut. I took the opportunity and signed up. I had two hours until my race so I spent that time with my teammates and friends who came. I was nervous before my race but excited to swim.
I was the only girl swimming my event and was next to two boys who pushed me to the finish. I took my last stroke reaching for the wall and before I could even check my time I saw Craig and Katherine jumping and yelling "You got it!" I looked to the clock in disbelief and I saw I went 1:12.17! I truly could not believe I got it. I asked my coaches again and again if they were sure. I couldn't stop the tears of joy, and I was smiling so much that my cheeks hurt. All of the training and meets really did pay off. Now the exciting part of this adventure began.
Planning the trip to Omaha has been so exciting. I get to stay in a room with my teammate from home who also qualified in the same event. I sent in my sizes to Nike so they can outfit me. On top of that, my parents are coming. Needless to say, the week of training after I qualified was intense. I swam with my club team that Monday because Connolly was closed. Craig managed to find a pool in Bellevue to train at the rest of the week.
Once we returned to the pool in the Connolly Center, we were working hard, hosting a Nike Swim Camp and training. Those four days of camp were the most exhausting. After that, it was time to relax and focus on my meet that was now six days away. Yesterday, I packed my bags and this morning woke up at 4:30 a.m. to catch our flight to Omaha for my race on Tuesday. If miracles have happened before, they can certainly happen again.
I would like to thank all of my friends and teammates who supported me, especially those who came and cheered me on two weeks ago in Federal Way: Mackenzie Gant, Whitney Dean, Megan Robinson, Megan Kelley, Nicole Doi, Ryan Somers, Joe Wertz, Allison Grubb, Karla Ruff, Josh Kutz, and Jess Schill.
Kevlyn's heat is expected to be streamed live on usaswimming.org Tuesday, June 26. The preliminary session begins at 8 a.m. Pacific time, with the women's 100 meter breaststroke scheduled as the third event of the session.