Swimmer’s Olympic Dream Deferred

Kaylee Hamblin must wait a year to compete in Team Trials

By Nan Bauroth | Photos courtesy of the Hamblin family

Posted on April 3, 2020

Kaylee Hamblin, a rising high school senior in the Ballantyne area, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Swimming, initially scheduled for this summer in Omaha, Nebraska. Now the Trials, and the 2020 Olympics, have been postponed for one year. In this interview, she shares how the delay is impacting her dream.

What was your reaction when you heard that the qualifying trials would be postponed?  

It was a big disappointment at first. I was so excited to go back to my hometown, Omaha, where my family lived for 11 years. I began swimming competitively on the YMCA team there, and I still have many friends in Omaha who were going to buy tickets and watch me. But the more I thought about it, I decided this might work to my advantage because I now have another year to train and get stronger.

When did you set your goal of making it to the qualifying trials for the Olympics?

About two years ago. I started training and went to a lot of meets this year, trying to make the cut, and it came down to a few tenths of a second every time. For nine months, I was fighting for that cut, and then at a meet in January, I made it by two hundredths of a second.

How did you feel when you made the time?

I was beyond excited! I was so happy. Someone took a picture of me at that moment, and my mouth is wide open. That says it all.

What stroke is your specialty?

The breaststroke. I am hoping to qualify in the women’s 100-meter individual breaststroke. Only the top two out of hundreds will make the team. It’s crazy!

What is your regular training routine?

I swim on a team at MSA on Tom Short Road six days a week (mostly) after school for two to two and a half hours.

MSA remains closed during the stay at home order. How are you training without a pool?

Swimming is one of the hardest sports to train for in this situation. I run every morning and do weight workouts to stay in shape as best as I can. It is reassuring that all the swimmers in the U.S. are facing this problem, not just me.

How do you view what is happening right now because of COVID-19?

It’s still shocking to me that everything is happening so fast, and all these decisions must be made on the spot. But you have to go with the flow and make the best of it with the resources you have.

How do you think you will look back on the COVID-19 crisis later in your life?

My hope is that it will be a distant memory in the next few months for our country. Personally, I think I will look back and be honestly grateful because it is giving me more time to prepare mentally and physically. The trials will be a big meet, and I have not been to something like that. I know it will be a great experience, and although it is disappointing to have it postponed right now, it will be good in the long run for me.

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