Downey Closes Strong in US Olympic Trials Debut
OMAHA – For the last two days Haley Downey has been hanging around, waiting her turn at US Olympic Trials inside CenturyLink Center. On the meet’s fifth day, in event No. 19 the Kansas signee hung around, waited some more, then sprinted through the last 50 meters to place second in her 200-meter breaststroke heat Thursday morning.
Downey, who committed to Kansas last summer and signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) in November, was just a second off her entry time at 2:35.85 and placed 78th overall with the swim.
“I usually really rush it, the first 50-meters I was trying to keep it smooth. ” Downey said. “After that I tried to hit my tempo, then gave it everything I’ve got. I had a little extra energy at the end.”
Downey was never far off the lead in her heat, touching the first wall near the middle of the 10-swimmer race. She hovered there through the turns at 100 and 150 meters, then climbed from fifth to second as the rest of the field faded.
“I was really happy with that time,” the first-time Trials qualifier from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, said. “It was super nerve-wracking to be in that pool and in front of so many people. I did a good job of focusing on the race and not the time. I’m happy with how that ended up.”
Micah Lawrence, a 2012 Olympian, posted the best time in prelims with a swim of 2:26.27, while Lawrence native Emma Reaney qualified for semifinals with the 10th-best time (2:28.57). Downey was there to watch the evening session as Lawrence finished second behind 100-meter breast champion Lilly King to advance to finals. Reaney swam the ninth-fastest semifinal time and is the first alternate for Friday’s finals race.
“It was really cool to watch, and neat to think, ‘Wow I was in this event, I’m good enough to swim with these guys and I could do that someday,'” Downey said. “It really makes you want to keep working for it.”
Downey didn’t have a chance to catch up with Kansas swimmers Chelsie Miller and Libby Walker before they concluded their Trials competition, but is hoping to catch fellow signee Jenny Nusbaum, who swam in the 200-meter freestyle earlier in the week. Whether they meet up in Omaha or not, the future teammates will be spending plenty of time in the water together soon, something Downey is looking forward to.
“I saw how they did at the Big 12 Championship was better than they’ve ever done,” Downey said of last year’s team. “It’s super exciting to be a part of a team that’s on the rise and getting better and better every year. I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
Downey’s swim concluded the KU-connected swims at the 2016 US Olympic Trials. In all, five past, present and future Kansas swimmers competed with the best swimmers in the country for a chance to represent the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Other Thursday notables include Olympic champion Matt Grevers announcing his retirement. Grevers is the younger brother of former Kansas swimmer Carolyn Grevers. He missed qualifying for this third Olympic games with a third-place finish in the tightly-contested 100-meter backstroke Tuesday night. Carolyn’s other brother Andy coaches at Missouri and was also in attendance with multiple swimmers competing.
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