Sophomore swimmer Shelby Fortin has to prove herself just one more time in order to join the United States Olympic swimming team.
Fortin was joined by the likes of Olympic swimmers, record holders and gold medalists as she swam at the U.S. Winter National Championships at Georgia Tech this past weekend.
“It was pretty impressive to see a Penn kid swimming at [finals] at the fastest meet in America,” coach Mike Schnur said.
And it wasn’t even a battle to the finish. Fortin swam the 400 long course meter (LCM) freestyle — the first event of the meet — in a time of 4:17.78, nearly two seconds under the time necessary to qualify for Olympic trials.
“Less than a tenth of one percent of all the swimmers in America qualify for that meet,” Schnur said. “So basically you are talking about [very few] kids in America per event get to swim in Olympic trials, so for her, it is a great accomplishment.”
Though Fortin qualified in the 400 free, she missed the trials cut for the 200 free by .29 seconds. Despite this close call, she was happy with her overall performance.
“I felt good in the water and it’s great to know that all the hard training I’ve been doing this fall is paying off,” Fortin wrote in an email.
To prep for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials — which will be held from June 25 to July 2 in Omaha, Neb. — Fortin is aiming to continue training and fixing some of the smaller details about her stroke and racing technique that may have slowed her down over the weekend.
At the moment, however, Fortin’s eyes are set on this season, which culminates at the Ivy League Championships in February.
“Last year, I won all three of my events [at Ivies], but this year, there is going to be some great competition, so it should be interesting,” Fortin wrote. “As long as I stay focused on my training and keep working hard, I should have those wins in the bag. Whoever wants it, gets it.”
Though there is still a lot of work ahead, the remaining meets on the team’s schedule and six months of training should help Fortin prepare for the meet that will determine who will represent the U.S. at the London Games.
Fortin’s increased confidence after her recent success will help the Quakers as they travel to New York to take on Harvard and Columbia on Friday.
“I walked away very happy and excited about what the rest of the season and the year have in store,” she wrote.
Fortin must wait until June for the ultimate test, but until then, she can let her accomplishments sink in and savor the moment she qualified.
“She had a big smile after that swim. That was a lot of fun,” Schnur said. “There was a big high-five afterwards.”
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