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Mikayla Herich, a freshman studying sociology and criminology, Emily Zimcosky, a freshman studying studio art and Corrin Vanlanen, a sophomore studying psychology pose for a portrait underwater at the aquatic center on January 13, 2017. (EMMA HOWELLS | PHOTO EDITOR)

Ohio swimmers use Olympic trials experience to better themselves and the team

For most swimmers, the NCAA Championships are the farthest they will ever reach in their swim career.

A smaller number of people make the Olympic trials, and they're in rare company. The trials only take place once every four years, right before the Summer Olympics.

Before the Summer Olympics took place this past summer in Rio de Janeiro, the Olympic trials took place from June 26 to July 3. Three swimmers, now swimming for the Bobcats, swam in those trials in Omaha, Nebraska.

Corrin Van Lanen was the only one that swam as a Bobcat before going to the trials. Both Mikayla Herich and Emily Zimcosky are in their first year at Ohio.

Despite not being on the same team at the time, both Herich and Zimcosky were already committed to Ohio. The two spent time together at the meet along with Ohio swim and dive coach Rachel Komisarz-Baugh, and became accustomed to working together. That helped them when they came together in the fall, Van Lanen said.

Herich and Zimcosky both qualified for the trials while in high school and Van Lanen qualified Feb. 28, the day after the Mid-American Conference Championships. Van Lanen was named First Team All-MAC at the championships.

Making it to the Olympic trials means swimmers are just one step away from the Olympics, which can be beneficial for the rest of the team.

“It just kind of raises the bar for everybody else," Komisarz-Baugh said. "That, 'OK, if they can do it and I train with them, the expectation is like why can’t I do that as well?' ” 

Van Lanen and Zimcosky swam the 50-meter freestyle and both finished outside of the top-100. Herich finished outside the top-100 in the 200- and 400-meter individual medley. To typically qualify for the U.S. Olympics swimming team, a swimmer has to achieve a required time and place in the top two of one of the events during the Olympic trials. 

None of the three qualified higher than 83rd in their event, so the chance of finishing in the top-twenty was going to be a very tall order. Finishing outside the top-100 was not what they wanted, but it was not a wasted trip. They learned about what they need to do in meets to improve — which has shown this season for Ohio.

“Olympic trials is a really big deal, a really big meet, very stressful, especially when you know you’re the bottom tier," Zimcosky said. "You’re not necessarily going for a spot on the team, but you’re going more for the experience because there is really not a meet that can compare to it.”

More than 200,000 tickets were sold for the eight-day meet, the most ever for the Olympic trials.

“I’ve never swam in front of that many people and it was just really cool," Herich said. "It kind of showed me that I needed to learn how to control my nerves better, because I definitely got there and let my nerves get the best of me."

To compare crowds, there are about 150 people at home meets for Ohio. The people watching at Ohio know the swimmers, unlike at the Olympic trials.

Translating their experiences from the Olympic trials to the swimming pool at Ohio is what Van Lanen, Herich and Zimcosky tried to do this season, especially with nerves which they all struggled with at the Olympic trials.

“I think just learning how to deal with your anxiety and nerves about performing well, I think that’s what I translate here and try to bring that maybe a little bit more to the team,” Van Lanen said.

Zimcosky, Van Lanen and Herich have all performed well this season in dual meets, combining for 33 individual event wins. 

With the MAC Championships being the only meet left in the season, there is mounting pressure on the Bobcats, and especially for Zimcosky, Van Lanen and Herich. The three will need to keep their nerves under control, as the team attempts to break its streak of three consecutive sixth-place finishes.

“No matter the swim meet whether it’s considered to be a small meet or something as big as the Olympic trials, I have to keep my nerves under control in order to perform my best,” Herich said. 


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