By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
Lisa Boyce knows about pressure. She’s a sophomore at Princeton, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. She was also Princeton’s only qualifier at last season’s NCAA Championships. This summer, Boyce will head to the Olympic Trials for a whole new kind of “pressure” – one that she thinks will be fun and enjoyable.
Six months ago, we caught up with Lisa Boyce about her training. Today, we update readers on her progress. If you have any swim stories you’d like to share, please email Trials.Tribulations.firstname.lastname@example.org.
So catch us up with where you’re at in training? Are you tapering?
No not yet. We’re still in pretty hard training right now. We’re doing a lot of speed work, long course kicking. Working a lot in the weight room. Right after NCAAs, I did more weights than ever before. I’ve dropped down from that. But I’m not sure when we’re dropping down completely. I think we’ll cut it out a few weeks before Trials. I usually do a pretty short taper. Photo at right courtesy: Beverly Schaefer/Princeton Athletic Communications
How did your college season end up?
It went really well. I was really excited. I qualified for NCAAs for the first time. It was really exciting. The experience was overwhelming. It was an intense meet. I felt a little like a little fish in a really big ocean. I was the only one from my team to quality this year. My club team in Illinois is pretty small, so I’m used to going to big meets by myself. But hopefully we’ll get more people there next year. I didn’t do quite as well as I hoped. I was .01 off my best time in the 100 free. I was nervous and putting pressure on myself. It was definitely a learning experience. I was 49.14 in the 100 free. I was 49.13 at the Ivy League Championships. I learned at NCAAs how to be at a meet like that, handle that pressure. I learned I don’t need to put that kind of pressure on myself. It’s more for the experience and to be there racing, rather than performing at a certain level. I’ve been to Senior Nationals last summer, but it didn’t seem as intense as NCAAs. It’s not as concentrated.
What sort of changes or tweaks have you made since we last talked?
I am always tweaking my stroke. I’ve been working on turns and breathing. Also, just getting into long course mode now. Before, I was focused on short course season, and now it’s about Trials. It can be tough adjusting to the format. They are different races – the long course and the short course sprint freestyles. I have a harder time adjusting in the 50m free. But I’m getting better at it. I’m going to the Santa Clara Grand Prix in a few weeks to get more long course racing experience. For me, the biggest thing is the turn – not having that wall. My strength is my underwater. When I don’t have that 2nd underwater, it hurts me. Long course is also more about power, and not just speed. There needs to be more power in my stroke. That’ll come with lifting and working on that in practice.
Last time we talked, you were interested in both the journey and destination. So now that Trials is almost here, how has your journey been?
It’s been really good so far. We’re still in school, we’re still in finals. I’m focused on Trials when I’m thinking about training, but I have other things on my mind. Once that’s over, it’ll be about swimming and preparing for Trials. Then it’ll set in more. For right now it’s been great training with a group of people I have with me. We still have a week or so of finals.
What are some of the ways you’re getting mentally prepared? Are you worried about being overwhelmed at Trials?
I don’t think I’m worried about being overwhelmed at Trials. Having a group of teammates there will help. I won’t feel as much pressure at Trials because I don’t have that much of a chance to make it back in anything. At NCAAs, I was putting pressure on myself to make it back and to represent Princeton. That made it harder. At Trials, I’m going to be there to enjoy being there.
Do you have a group of Princeton swimmers going to Trials?
Yeah. We have about 13 swimmers going right now. Plus a couple incoming freshmen who are going. Yeah, it definitely will be fun.
Will it be nice not to worry about school and swimming at the same time? To put school behind you and totally focus on swimming?
Yeah. Definitely. It’ll be a lot easier to handle in the summer. I study all day right now. We’ll go to practice in the morning, then take a nap and study, then practice in the afternoon, then study all night. I’m more focused on finals right now. I’m focused on Trials when I’m in the pool or weight room, but right now, I’m spending more energy on finals. It’ll be nice to focus on Trials and rest between practices and not worrying about studying or writing papers.
We’re only five or so weeks away – are you getting excited?
Yeah. Definitely. I’m really excited. It’s so close now, it’s really awesome.
Is your family going?
My parents will be there. That’ll be the first time I’ve seen them after NCAAs.
Do you think it’ll be tough to bounce back after Trials? With the emotion of the meet, to have to turn around and get back in the pool and start the process all over again?
I’m going to U.S. Open too so I’ll train right after Trials. That’s in the beginning of August. But I’m excited for this summer. It’s coming up so fast.