Sports

Stanford women's swimming coach reflects on the Olympic trials

 

Once the Olympic Trials had concluded, Stanford women's swimming coach Greg Meehan took a big breath and let it all sink in.

Fair to say, Meehan's cup runneth over.


Kassidy Cook
He saw three of his swimmers, a diver, and a paralympian qualify for Rio.

"We didn't have anyone in 2012," he said. "Taking a step back and gathering my thoughts ...they absolutely exceeded expectations. In terms of the achievement of the program this is something I'm very proud of."

Swimmers Simone Manuel, Lia Neal and Maya DiRado, diver Kassidy Cook and paralympian Brickelle Bro all advanced.

"Going in I knew it was a possibility," said Meehan, who will also be in Rio as an assistant coach for the U.S. team. "But the Olympic Trials are the most challenging meet an athlete can compete in. Some big names didn't make it or not in as many events as expected."

Who has the best chance for a gold medal?

"I think they all have medal potential," Meehan said. "The difference between gold, silver and bronze is not very much. Especially the two competing in the 400 free relay, Maya in all three of her events and Simone in her two. They all are in the mix."

Cook missed out on the 2012 Olympics due to a shoulder injury. This time around she led throughout the 3-meter diving competition at the Olympic Trials and qualified for her first Olympic Team.

"Kassidy has really put herself in great position to compete on the world stage," Meehan said. "It's been very exciting for me to see her improvement."

Manuel took second in both the 50 free and 100 free at the Olympic Trials. Neal qualified, along with Manuel, in the 400 free relay. DiRado won three events: the 200 IM, the 400 and the 200 back.

"Now it's more about having fun," Manuel said at a recent Stanford Olympic Swimming Media Day. "Get back into the zone, watch video, try to improve and get faster in Rio."

As the swimmers finished up with media interviews, they prepared to greet a line of approximately 270 youngsters, primarily girls, on hand to meet the Olympians.

"It's unbelievable the people here wanting our autographs," Manuel said. "Growing up I always looked up to someone. Now to have that reversed. Becoming a role model is very humbling."

World record holder Katie Ledecky, who will be at Stanford in the fall, also won three events during the Olympic Trials.

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