By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
If Jasmine Tosky’s 2012 Olympic Trials experience were a book, it would most likely be “A Tale of Two Cities.”
That’s how the University of Southern California sophomore feels her time in Omaha went – positive early and disappointing later.
With it being her first Trials, she left having learned several lessons she said will serve her well as she moves forward in her swimming career.
“Omaha was both one of the most successful and least successful meets I've had,” Tosky said. “The first event of the meet, the 100 fly, was the best I have ever felt swimming a race. But the confidence I had swimming the 100 fly did not emerge in the 200 fly or 200 free. I didn’t attend the Trials in 2008, and no National Team meet could have prepared me for 2012.
“The atmosphere was different from any other meet, and I did not do the best dealing with the internal pressure I put upon myself. Not reaching my goal at Trials was a personal disappointment, but things happen for a reason, and I've learned from my mistakes. I don't look back on Omaha ruefully but can accept the meet knowing that I was not ready to make the Olympic Team.”
Despite her shortcomings at Trials, Tosky took a leap of faith and made the trip to Indianapolis a few weeks later to compete at the U.S. Open. She went on to earn a spot on the 2013 World University Games team with a top two performances in the 100 and 200 butterfly. Her performance qualified her to compete for the United States at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
Shortly after the conclusion of that meet, Tosky flew cross-country to Los Angeles to start her freshman year as a Trojan, and a new chapter of her life was born.
She said the transition from high school to college wasn’t as daunting as just learning to live somewhere other than home, but now that she’s been through it, she’s excited for her second year at USC.
“It wasn't the college courses or the training that caught me off guard, but the change in lifestyle and living in a foreign environment that made my freshman year a challenge,” said Tosky, who is enrolled in USC's Marshall School of Business, majoring in business administration and just starting her sophomore year. “I like to know what's ahead of me, and freshman year was like walking through a pitch black tunnel.
“Now that I know what to expect, I'm anxious for the season to begin and give Pac 12s and NCAAs another try. The past year and more I regard as water under the bridge. I'm truly excited to start the season with my amazing teammates and to enjoy my sophomore year one day at a time.”
Tosky’s stellar swimming career began a little more than a decade ago when she was 6. She loved soccer as much as being in the water, but when repeated sprained ankles became too much for her at 8, she joined her club team, PASA, where she has swam for the past 13 years and the rest is history in the making.
Early in her career, Tosky enjoyed some national-level results, winning three golds at the 2010 Junior Pan Pacific Championship (200m IM, 400m and 800m free relays) as well as a silver in the 200m free and bronzes in the 100m free and 100m fly (she was also captain of the U.S. team). She also set a national prep record in the 100y fly at the 2011 CIF Central Coast Section Championships, erasing the oldest high school record on the books with a 51.92 (erasing a mark by 2000 Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman).
At the 2010 Phillips 66 National Championships, she became a five-time finalist as a 16-year-old and won gold as a member of the 800 freestyle relay at the 2011 FINA World Championships. She also won gold in the 800 free relay at the 2010 Short Course World Championships.
With those early accomplishments, Tosky encountered her fair share of expectations to be one of the next great U.S. swimmers, most of that pressure coming from within.
“It definitely has been hard to not live up to my own expectations I put in front of myself from when I was younger,” said Tosky, who enjoys reading and listening to music in her downtime and while traveling. "At that youthful age, I didn't realize the path I was making for myself.
“Now being older and looking back, I see that I have drifted off a steady upward slope. Yes, it's a bit disheartening, but it doesn't mean I will continue to stray away from becoming better. I will get there, it's just time that will determine when.”
This summer at the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships and World University Games, Tosky experienced first-hand that she isn’t quite where she wants to be with her swimming.
She said she didn’t trust her taper before and didn’t feel in shape at Nationals and failed to live up to her expectations. At the World University Games in July, she came up equally short, making one final but having to scratch another due to illness.
“Being surrounded with current college teammates and friends whom I had been on prior teams with made it seem like the perfect meet to rebound from an interesting year,” Tosky said. “Unfortunately, my meet didn't finish the way I would have ever predicted. Scratching the semifinals of the 200 fly was probably one of the harder things I've had to do in the sport of swimming. I wasn't feeling quite right after landing in Russia, and the decision to scratch was mine. Looking back, it was the best judgment.”
Her summer adventures also taught Tosky a valuable lesson she’ll take with her for the rest of her career, one she intends to continue pursuing through the 2016 Olympics at the least.
“My biggest swimming lesson is one that I learned not too long ago,” Tosky said. “If you have a bad swim, get over it and move on to the next one, no matter how many bad swims you may have in a row. One swim meet doesn't define you as a swimmer or person. It just lets you know where you currently are and what can improve upon for the future.”