December 2, 2023

Sprint a set. Repeat. Work on technique. Repeat. Lift weights. Repeat. Keep a srict diet. Repeat. This never-ending cycle is just words on paper for most of us, but for a swimmer who is training to get times to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials, it is everyday life.

Whether they have been training their entire swim career or just recently aimed their focus toward Olympic Trial times, the California Baptist University swim team has many swimmers training for the elite-level competition. 

These swimmers include Scott Tolman, senior mechanical engineering major, Brandon Schuster, senior biomedical engineering major, Joe Molinari, junior psychology major, Buse Topcu, junior nutrition and food sciences major, Rebeca Oviedo, sophomore political science major, and Hannah Houlton, freshman exercise science major.

Houlton is a newcomer to the CBU women’s swim team but has been swimming most of her life. She said one of her goals in her swim career was to swim at a collegiate level. Now that she is fulfilling that goal, she is working toward the ultimate goal: Olympic Trials times.

“It has always been a goal,” Houlton said. “Making Olympic Trials cuts would be the peak of my swim career. For me, it is the highest you can get.” 

With her new goals in place, Houlton goes into each practice with a new and more focused mindset. Houlton’s specialty is freestyle and she is training primarily for the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races. The Olympic Trials cut for the 50-free long-course meters is 25.99 seconds, and Houlton’s time in the race is 26.57 seconds. For her to drop less than a second she has to intensely train this season and even beyond to reach her Olympic goal. 

Being a seasoned swimmer, Houlton knows every second in a race and training counts. A race can be won by hundredths of a second and each hundredth is crucial, especially when racing to compete against the fastest people in the United States. 

The rookie freshman is not the only swimmer on the swim team who has Olympic Trials cuts in mind this swim season. 

Standing at 6 feet, 3 inches tall, Molinari said he also has a goal of attending the Olympic Trials. The events he is training for are the 200-meter backstroke, 200-meter butterfly, 200- and 400-meter individual medleys. He also hopes to get the 200-meter freestyle cut, but it will be a byproduct of his training rather than being the main focus. 

Similar to Houlton, Molinari said his training in practice must increase.

“I want my aerobic capacity to be high, so that means I will up my yardage and do more distance individual medley workouts,” Molinari said.  

Both Houlton and Molinari are focused on achieving their Olympic Trials cuts, but they said that will not negatively affect their performance at the Western Athletic Conference Championships at the end of the season. Instead, they believe they will place higher at the championship and their results will benefit from their focused training. 

These two swimmers have high hopes for their season and so do their coaches. 

“The training is for sure more intensive and more specific,” said Lisa Siregar, assistant coach of swim and dive.

Siregar said she hopes making practices more specialized for athletes will help them make the trials cut. As all coaches do, Siregar said she always expects amazing results from her swimmers who dedicate so much time and work so hard.

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