CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Kennedy girls' swimming team has never shied away from tough competition.
The Cougars received a healthy dose of it at their invitational.
Kennedy won two events, was runner-up in three more and ... »
IOWA CITY – When Ruby Martin started her life of swimming, all she yearned for was a pink ribbon.
Pink was customarily reserved for 16th place. My, how the goals have changed.
Martin, 16, is one of three swimmers from Iowa City’s Iowa Flyers swim club who will be among nearly 2,000 swimmers competing in the biggest meet of their young careers – the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which begins Sunday and runs through July 3 in Omaha, Neb.
“To just go knowing that I’ve put in the work to get a cut and that I’m there,” Martin said. “And I just need to have fun and I just need to swim my heart out and then that is all that matters. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The swim trials will feature the giants of the sport such as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky and is the only meet used to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which begin Aug. 5.
No one in the state qualified for more events than Martin’s eight, of which she will compete in seven. While qualifying for the Olympic team would be a feat of historic proportions, Martin has a legitimate shot at earning a spot on the Pan American Games roster with a top-two finish in any event among competitors age 18 and younger.
In the 18 and under group, Martin is the seeded fifth in the 100-meter butterfly and seventh in the 200 butterfly.
“I’m going to put a ton of quotes up in my room, positivity quotes that (say), ‘You can do this,’” Martin said. “I have that feeling inside me that I’m ready now. I’m ready to go, just let it go and see the best that I have and see that my training is going to pay off.”
Martin – who is expected to join the Iowa City West high girls’ swimming team as a junior this coming fall – will also compete in two freestyle events (200-meter, 400), two individual medley (200-meter, 400) and the 200-meter backstroke. She will be joined in the 100 butterfly by Kelsey Drake of the Linn-Mar USA Swim Team and Iowa State’s Marissa Engel in the 200 backstroke.
Martin’s club teammates Aidan Keen and Mark McGlaughlin – both having just completed a decorated career at West – will also represent the Iowa Flyers. Keen – a University of Missouri signee – will compete in the 200-meter freestyle, while the North Carolina State-bound McGlaughlin – owner of a state-record 12 high school gold medals – will be in the 100-meter freestyle, the 200 and the 100-meter backstroke.
“I’m really going for just that, the experience at this point,” said McGlaughlin, who will competing alongside approximately 35 of his future N.C. State teammates. “Swimming at a big meet like that, obviously, is going to be the biggest meet I’ve ever swam at. … I’m usually not the type to get too nervous. I don’t have to worry about that as much, but we’ll see once I’m standing in front of 15,000 people.”
The University of Iowa qualified six swimmers – seniors Emma Sougstad (100-meter breaststroke), Jackson Halsmer (50 freestyle) and Kyle Patnode (100 butterfly), plus juniors Meghan Lavelle (100 backstroke, 200 backstroke) and RJ Hemmingsen (50 freestyle). Former Iowa swimmer Mike Nelson will compete in the 100 breaststroke.
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