The 2012 Olympic Team Trials for swimming, scheduled for June 25 through July 2 in Omaha, Neb., likely are to be the biggest competition of recent Good Counsel graduate Sarah Haase’s swimming career.
The talented Stanford University-bound breaststroke and individual medley swimmer currently is in an intense training cycle that includes three two-a-days per week and will taper — curtail her training to ensure her body is at full strength — a week or two before trials, she said.
Emotions will be running high early this summer, and by the first week of July Haase likely is to be physically and mentally drained.
Yet even her hectic schedule couldn’t keep Haase away from Flower Valley, her Montgomery County Swim League team.
Though her Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club training and trials preparation will take priority, the four-year Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving 100-meter breaststroke champion and meet record holder said she plans on representing Flower Valley this summer as often as she can.
“Flower Valley is where I learned to swim,” Haase said. “It’s where I came to love swimming and every time I come back it really refreshes that feeling and reminds me of why I swim. Everyone is supportive of all [the swimmers] going to trials. All the kids look up to us, so it’s nice.”
The Washington Metropolitan area has become known as a hotbed for national-caliber swimming talent and the 54-year-old MCSL is where most of them got started.
The league consists of 89 neighborhood teams countywide divided into 15 result-based divisions.
It also provides a unique opportunity for youth athletes of all ages to work together for a common goal.
The six-week dual meet season kicks off June 16 and will be followed by the divisional meet July 21 and the all-star relay and individual championships July 28-29.
The nation’s top swimmers are not just limited to the best MCSL teams.
Rising sophomores Caroline McTaggart (Holton-Arms School, Chevy Chase Rec Association) and Katie Ledecky (Stone Ridge, Palisades) rising senior Jack Conger (Our Lady of Good Counsel, Flower Valley) and recent Walter Johnson graduate Garrett Powell (Tilden Woods, Division A) are among the league’s best prospects.
Haase said most of her friends who are going to the Olympic Trials also plan to return to their respective MCSL teams this season.
Although summer swimming is all about fun, with so many talented athletes, it also provides good competition.
Haase said early dual meets will be good race practice.
“I think it does show how important MCSL is to these kids that they’re still swimming for us [with trials coming up],” said Tilden Woods coach Jenn Barnes. “But these are kids that were little water babies. They grew up with each other, they come back because it’s family. Having [Olympic-level] athletes is something very special and something I would hope would be very inspirational for our younger swimmers.”