By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
Lisa Boyce is living proof that swimmers don’t have to sacrifice everything for the pool. She’s a rising junior at Princeton University – arguably the most difficult college in the nation. She also swam at this summer’s Olympic Trials. We’ve been following Lisa’s journey leading up to Trials, and this week, Lisa reflects on her experiences dealing with some of the mental hurdles of the biggest meet in America, as well as her goals for the future. You can read her last update here.
How did Trials go?
It was a really incredible experience. It was so cool to be a part of Trials. There isn’t another meet like it. It was really cool just to be there. I didn’t swim quite as well as I wanted but it was really cool. I swam the 100 back and 100 free.
Looking back, what were your thoughts the week before? Were you excited?
Leading up to Trials, I was just really excited to get there. It was a meet I was dreaming about since I first heard of it. When I got there, I got a little more nervous than I wanted to be. I was putting pressure on myself. But I was still really excited to be there. I felt pretty good during the warm ups on the day of. It was a normal meet until we had to go to the ready room area and march out. That made it feel a little more like an “important meet.” That made me nervous. Other than that it was really fun.
What were your times?
103 low in the 100 back and 57 mid in the 100 free. So, they weren’t best times. They were pretty good for morning swims. That wasn’t too bad. It was different having a big meet so early in the season. That’s how I am in that part of the season. They are solid swims.
I’ve heard that talking with other swimmers before – that they maybe didn’t necessarily get best times, but they swam well for “morning swims.” Did you do anything different to prepare to swim fast in the morning, or did you treat it like any other meet?
I treated it like any other meet. I usually swim better at night. But I treated it like any other meet.
Are you pleased with your experience?
Yeah. It was a really fun meet, even if I didn’t quite get the times I wanted to get. It was really cool to be there.
What was swimming alongside some of those big names like?
That was really cool. I have raced against in seniors a lot of the big names for a couple of years now. I wasn’t necessarily star-struck, but it was really cool. Cool to be there in person and see all of the emotion up close, to see the reactions from all the athletes.
Going forward, what do you have on the horizon?
Right now, I’m taking a break. Next season, I’m looking forward to college season. I’ll be a junior. The way I was racing this summer and the things I got better at should translate well to short course. I’ll keep working on racing and get back with the team.
After Trials, did you take a break? Did you keep training for another meet?
I didn’t take any break. I went to the U.S. Open. I swam a few events at Juniors as well. I had a couple of pretty good times, a couple of best times. A few weren’t so good. I went a best time in my 100 back and 100 fly. I was 1:02.8 in the 100 back and 1:02.5 in the fly.
Is it difficult going form a big meet like Trials to a meet like Juniors?
It was definitely different. There’s no fire shooting at the side of the pool at the US Open. [Laughs.] It was just a different kind of meet. I had always liked racing. It was just good to be there and be competing.
What were some of the mental obstacles with Trials?
I think just the whole ‘being at the Olympic Trials’… I’m kind of a perfectionist. There’s no better place to have a perfect race than at the Olympic Trials. I was kind of forcing that too much.
Forcing your races?
I was trying too hard to go fast. Spinning my arms too fast in the beginning of the race. Using too much energy on the first part of the race.
What are your goals for the future?
They are pretty much the same. I would love to keep swimming after college, but I have to see how everything goes. I will also be young when I graduate. It depends on what I decide to do with your life.
What advice do you have for swimmers who want to swim for an Ivy League school?
Ever since high school, I’ve been balancing academics and swimming. At Princeton, we’ll do school work together [with teammates] and it’s very supportive and everyone knows that you’re balancing a tough schedule. It’s important to find a team that can help you out.
Did you get a break from academics, or did you take classes this summer?
I took a break this summer. It helped with swimming because I got more sleep during the summer. I came home and I’ve grown like half an inch which is probably just from getting sleep over the summer. I’m probably getting maybe 6 hours at night on a typical night in college.
That’s not very much.
Looking back at your journey training and competing at the Olympic Trials, what do you think was the best memory of the whole thing?
It was fun hanging out with the rest that went to Trials. We stayed three weeks before Trials, we were done with finals, and then we were the only ones on campus. So we were hanging out together a lot. We’d go to the library and rent 1 dollar movies and watch them. It was a lot of fun hanging out with the girls on the team.
So there’s a chance you’ll be going for 2016?
Do you have any specific goals before you hang your suit up?
Next year I want to make NCAAs again and see how I do there. Just continue the progression I’ve had.
You said earlier you want the perfect race. Do you think you can achieve it?
Hopefully. I’ve had really good races before, but I’m still working towards it. Staying late after practice. Working on turns. They were better this summer. I keep doing things like that to get there.
If YOU have swim stories to share, please email Trials.Tribulations.email@example.com.