Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
June 27, 2012It was the type of stage every swimmer dreams of performing on.
Eight lanes. Over 13,000 fans in attendance. TV cameras, microphones, and reporters surrounding the pool.
Claire Donahue waited patiently in Lane 1 as the pool announcer went down the line, rattling off one big name after another.
"Dana Vollmer Natalie Coughlin Elaine Breeden."
Her entire life's work was about to come down to this one race, less than a minute long.
Finish in the top two, and she'd achieve her dream of representing Team USA. Place outside the top two, and she'd fall painstakingly short of her lifelong goal.
The buzzer sounded, and Donahue exploded off the blocks, landing quickly as one of the first to hit the pool.
The 23 year old flew down the pool the first 50 meters, but hit the first wall outside the top two, quickly making the only turn in the race.
50 meters separated her from qualifying for the London Olympics, or suffering the agony of finishing third in the US Olympic Trials--the only competition in the world where second place is just as good as first.
48 meters later, Donahue took one last powerful stroke, slamming hard into the wall.
She ripped off her goggles and cap, and looked up at the electronic results.
Second place. The former Hilltopper did it. She had just qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, alongside former 100 meter butterfly world champion, Dana Vollmer.
"When I finished and saw that I was second, I did not even know what to think," she said. "I immediately had a huge grin from ear-to-ear. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity."
Now, she'll be training for a couple more weeks with the Olympic team before they head to London.
"I really feel a sense of pride to be able to go to London representing WKU," she said. "Sometimes people don't expect this from a mid-major school.
"I think that really helps my drive, and I know that I will be going to London to make everyone at WKU proud."
Stay tuned to InsideHilltopperSports.com, as we provide regular updates on Donahue as she prepares for the London Games.
Western Kentucky NEWS