By Riley Hubsch
Loyola junior Sean Lee recently qualified to compete in the United States Olympic Trials. Athletes who excel at this event earn the honor of competing at the summer games next year in Rio de Janeiro. In June of next year, Lee will compete in Omaha, Nebraska against other high school and adult swimmers to merit a trip to the legendary games.
Lee qualified for the Olympic Trials through his time standings for different swimming events including the 200-meter freestyle, the 200-meter intermediate medley [a race using all four strokes], and the 100-meter butterfly. Any swimmer that can meet the time standard is invited to participate in the Olympic Trial cuts, according to Lee. After all of the races next summer, the first and second place winners of each event will advance to the Olympics.
Lee qualified for three different events in the 2016 Olympic Trials this summer. He qualified in the 200-meter Fly, 200-meter Intermediate Medley, and the 400-meter Intermediate Medley.
Lee’s swim coach, Kevin Mann, noted the difficulty of the events in which Lee will compete. Mann said, “These three events are three of the toughest events on the schedule.”
As a sophomore last year, Lee broke the school records for the three events that he qualified in for the Olympic Trials. Commenting on Lee’s preparation for the Olympic Trials, Coach Mann said, “[Sean qualified through] a mixture of hard work and a very large amount of ability. The best [swimmers]have both, and Sean definitely has both.”
Lee is vigorously training and preparing for the upcoming trials, “I continue to do what I’ve always done, I just train hard and hope that it’s enough.” Lee is committed to a year-round swimming regimen and swims with a club team in Pasadena, Swim Pasadena, when not competing for the Loyola swim team.
Next season, Coach Mann and the swim team will continue to practice and help Lee to prepare for the Olympic Trials. Coach Mann said, “I won’t coach Sean any different…. Loyola has team goals and they will come first. If we achieve our team goals, [then]Sean will achieve his individual goals as well.”
Lee has been immersed in swimming since the age of seven, and has now reached his ultimate goal as a 16 year old high school junior. He said, “As a little kid, I knew the Olympics were a little far-fetched, so that was the goal I had as a kid, and now I’ve achieved it.” Coach Mann commented on Lee’s future career by saying, “Sean has a very high ceiling and has not come close to his potential. I am very excited to be part of his journey moving forward.”
Moreover, Lee looks to compete in the Olympic Trial cuts in future years, as he will be eligible in 2020 during his junior year of college. Coach Mann said, “At sixteen Sean will be one of the youngest competitors at Olympic Trials and I think 2016 will be a great meet for Sean to prepare for 2020. As long as he focuses on hard work and having fun, Sean can achieve some amazing things with his career.”
Lee said, “My favorite part of swimming probably has to be just competing, and the trials will be on television and held in a stadium, so it’s just really cool to be in the same pool with all the big names, like Michael Phelps and others.”