Olympic Swim Trials: Young's personal best among strongest Empire showings

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A personal best in the biggest race of Taylor Young’s life highlighted a busy day for Empire swimmers at the Olympic Swim Trials on Tuesday.

Shaving nearly a second off her qualifying time in the 100-meter breaststroke, Young finished 43rd among 153 in the event.

Despite missing the semifinals, Young was ecstatic about her day in the water in Omaha, Neb.

“I’m really happy. It was the most fun I’ve had at a meet,” said Young, who will be a senior at Cardinal Newman.

Keeping nerves in check and preparing well is challenging at the massive meet. Swimmers aim to avoid a letdown and swim near their qualifying times.

Rebecca Baxley, like Young also competing in her first Olympic trials, swam the 100 backstroke near her best time. She moved up in the field after entering the event toward the back of the pack that qualified for the trials.

“I was like so satisfied with the time,” said Baxley, who will be a senior at Analy. “Considering the pressure and stress that was going on, I was really happy. Once I was in the race it was all fine.”

The best finish for Empire stars came from Molly Hannis, the former Santa Rosa High great now at Tennessee. Hannis swam the 100 breast just off her personal best to take 34th overall.“I did the best I could. It’s definitely a fast pool,” Hannis said.

In her second Olympic trials, Hannis wants to improve in her second event, the 200 breast on Friday. Hannis tweaked her stroke this season and said it is suited to the longer distance.

“I’ve been training better than I ever have. I’m really excited for what’s to come,” she said.

Also competing Tuesday:

Amanda Sims, who competed for Cal out of Montgomery High, finished 137th in the 100 back. Sims is back in the pool Sunday for the 50 freestyle preliminaries.

Sophia Yamauchi, the former Montgomery standout now at UC Santa Barbara, finished 110th in the 100 breast. Her finish was right around where Yamauchi qualified. Sister Penelope Yamauchi, who completed her college career this season at Arizona State, swims the 200 breast on Friday.

Also in the 200 breast on Friday will be Young, making the most of her first Olympic trials.

“The tension is just really high. I don’t let it get to me. I just really focused on my training and my technique,” Young said. “Another PR would be really nice. I feel more confident for Friday.”

Tuesday was Baxley’s one day of competition. But she will savor the meet’s remaining days cheering for her Empire mates.

“It’s such a big meet. I’ve had so much fun,” said Baxley, who looks at returning to the next trials in four years. “I’m going to keep training hard and keep my motivation up.”