Aiming for the Olympics

Emilio Alcaraz, Sports Writer

The Olympics are considered the pinnacle stage for the presentation of athletes potential. Representing one’s country against the world’s best athletes is also considered an honor. California State University, Bakersfield has three potential Olympians next year on the swim team. These student-athletes are overcoming obstacles such is COVID limitations, regaining their form, and overcoming the pressure of becoming Olympians.

Olympic Trials are where determinations are made on who can go to the Olympics but qualifying for Olympic Trials itself is also rather difficult. In swimming, they must go through a process called time standards. This means that athletes must go a certain time or faster to qualify for a certain time standard. They have these standards for meets of all skill levels ranging from age group meets up to higher national level meets. USA swimming sends out these time standards a little over a year before the Olympic Trial meet. They then have a qualifying period from when they release the standards up until the Olympic Trial meet.

Autumn D’Arcy, a CSU Bakersfield swimmer majoring in liberal studies with hopes of being an elementary school teacher. D’Arcy main inspiration to succeed is her family, teammates, and her coaches that have sacrificed a lot for her swimming career.

“They get me through the hard practices as well as push me at every meet. I try my best to be a role model. I think I try to lead by example and the role models in my life have always been encouraging and loving so I try to be the same to those around me” D’Arcy said.

D’Arcy’s typical daily routine consists of morning practice, eating breakfast, and attend her classes. Then, she eats lunch, completes her homework, stretches, and goes to afternoon practice. Finally, she relaxes, eats dinner,and attempts to go to bed early.

“I would say the best aspects about swimming is racing. I think it is a really fun and cool thing to push yourself to try and touch the wall first,” D’Arcy said, “Representing my county at Olympic Trials will probably end up being the greatest honor of my swimming career. I can not imagine a greater honor than the chance to represent my country and school at a meet of that caliber”.

USA swimming releases a time standard for Olympic trials which requires vigorous training due to the quick cuts. The athletes race in a meet to qualify for the Olympic trials.

Due to COVID limitations, swimming in a standard Olympic pool is difficult. However, D’Arcy has managed to get back into shape within two months of practice.

The “Swimming is hard because it is a sport where you have to be in a pool to train. While running and cross training is great there is nothing to supplement swimming. Therefore, without access to a pool training is quite difficult. I do what I can when we aren’t able to practice,” D’Arcy said.

D’Arcy’s athletic accolades include the two Rowdies she got at CSUB. During her freshmen year she was awarded newcomer of the year. Last year she was awarded the Flachmann and Female WAC swimmer of the year. Her favorite CSUB memory is the camaraderie in the locker room before her duel meets.

“We are always dancing around and having a great time. Giving each other motivation for the upcoming meet,” D’Arcy said, “Another great memory would be my first WAC championship when my relay team won our 800 freestyle event. It was my first event I ever swam at a WAC championship and it was an amazing memory to have with the girls.”

Kristofer Rogic is a CSUB swimmer that is majoring in Business Administration, concentrating in Finance, and minoring in Communications. His favorite aspect of Swimming & Diving is the team atmosphere and the manner in which way swimming taught him to face adversity. Rogic is a Croatian native who hopes to make it to the Olympics by meeting a certain standard time in an event next year.

“Representing Croatia at the Olympics was my dream as a kid. Even being in this situation where we’re looking at it as a possibility and something, I’m working towards is a blessing,” Rogic said, “At the end of the day, I am doing all I can to be in the best shape possible to qualify. If I give it my all, I will have no regrets regardless of what happens.”

Rogic claims that not being allowed to swim in the pool has taken a bigger toll on him then expected but that obstacle will not slow him down. Rogic’s daily routine wakes up early and gets a cardio workout in. Then, he eats breakfast,answers emails that he might have, and hangs out with his roommates until his classes start.

“I worked really hard at an early age to get where I am today. For those reasons I am very motivated to continue working hard and not losing sight of the end goal.” Rogic said “The person I am today is a result of their good ethics and the good relationship we have. When I came here in 2017, I needed help and guidance from others since I was new to the program and to the American lifestyle. I was very lucky to have a great upperclassmen roster that was there to help me with anything I needed, and they all know how grateful I am for them.”

Rogic takes nothing for granted considering his parents and his upperclassmen who helped him transition into American culture. As a senior, he attempts to repay the favor and help others that were once in his situation. This is what he considers one of his accomplishments.

“My favorite accomplishment is the next one! One of my favorite memories at CSUB is beating CBU twice in a season last year. We’ve gone back and forth with them in the past and I respect their team but winning both home and away against them last year was special. Few people get the opportunity to train in the U.S. and attend a great university like I do,” Rogic said.

Loren Gillilan is a CSUB swimmer who is majoring in Business with a concentration in marketing. Gillilan loves traveling because of his sport before COVID-19. Gillian trials consists of a short course which consists of 25 yards and Long Course which consists of 50 meters. So, for the Olympic Trials he must qualify with a Long Course time which cannot attempt standard college trails. Hopeful U.S. Olympic swimmers must attend separate meets (Nationals, U.S. Open, Pro Swim Series, etc.) to try to qualify for the meet. Gillian made my Olympic Trial cut in 2019 at the Summer National meet over the summer in the 100 meter butterfly. However, COVID limitations have caused obstacles for Gillian.

“COVID has definitely limited my athletic performances due to all the shutdowns. Pools were getting shut down and it made the situation very difficult. Swimming is a sport where you can spend 3 days out of the water and it will have an enormous impact on your abilities,” Gillian said, “You learn to have a feel for the water, but when you’re not able to be in the water you lose that feel rather quickly. Since getting in the water has been rather difficult, I have had to rely on doing on land workouts.”

Gillian has the CSUB records in 100 yard fly, 200 yard fly, 200 medley relay, and 400 medley relay. Gillian qualified for the 2021 Olympic Trials in the 100 meter butterfly and is a two time National Invitational Championship winner in the 100 yard butterfly and the 50 yard butterfly.  Gillian’s favorite memories about his CSUB career are just being with the team.

“Whether it is at conference on the last night where we get to eat with everyone and our parents or our beach training trip that we usually do every year. As exciting as it is to qualify for Olympic Trials, it doesn’t beat some nights of hanging out with the team,” Gillian said.

Gillian’s role models are his teammates and top tier athletes like Caeleb Dressel. Gillian also hopes to be a role model to his siblings which can be see through his daily routine:

On Monday/Wednesday/Friday he wakes up early at 5am for morning practice and then returns back in the afternoon for a 2 hour swim. Tuesday/Thursday he would have a 2 hour swim in the middle of the day which intertwined with having to manage school/work.

Currently, Gillian believes it is a lot harder to keep a daily routine with the continuous shutdowns. So the only consistencies are his classes which take place from 7-10pm.

“I strive to succeed in order to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving the goals that I have set for myself.” Gillian said “I know I have things I can improve on and being able to work on those issues all year and being able to see the payoff makes the struggle all worth it.”