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Friday, October 22, 2021

Freshman swimmer Solie Laughlin headed to 2016 Olympic Trials

Solie Laughlin (LUCY KNOWLES / AGGIE)
Solie Laughlin (LUCY KNOWLES / AGGIE)

UC Davis athlete will compete in the 2016 Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. in the 100-meter Backstroke, the 200-meter Backstroke and the 400-meter IM.

With the 2016 Olympic Games coming up this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Olympic Trials are taking place in order to see who will represent the United States in a variety of sports. UC Davis freshman swimmer Solie Laughlin has earned her position to compete in these Olympic Trials at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on June 26 to July 3 in the 100-meter Backstroke, 200-meter Backstroke and the 400-meter IM. So who is this freshman swimmer from Ventura, Calif.?

Laughlin is a first-year undeclared-humanities major and a standout swimmer whose backstroke gave her the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Trials. She finished ninth overall and won the consolation final (2:14.87) in the 200-meter Backstroke at the Los Angeles Invitational on July 10, 2015. She later succeeded in the USA Swimming Junior Nationals Aug. 2, 2015 with a time of 1:02.98 in order to receive her chance to compete in the trials in the 100-meter Back. Laughlin recently qualified for the 400-meter IM trials (4:53.02), adding to her already impressive qualifications in the trials for the 100-meter and 200-meter Backstroke.

Last month, Laughlin was named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Freshman of the Year, after helping the UC Davis women’s swimming and diving team to its fourth conference title in six seasons. She became the third Aggie swimmer to earn top rookie honors from the MPSF, and became the second Aggie to win three individual events at the MPSF Championships. A school-record time of 1:56.64 was posted by Laughlin in the finals of the 100-meter Backstroke.

Throughout the season, Laughlin posted a total of six NCAA “B” standards in the three events she qualified for, and she holds the second fastest time at UC Davis in the 400-meter IM (4:14.80), the third fastest time in the 100-meter Backstroke and the eighth-fastest time in the 200-meter IM.

The California Aggie had the chance to sit down with Laughlin to discuss her upcoming Olympic trials, as well as her upbringing in swimming and why UC Davis was the school she chose to compete at.

What got you into swimming?

I was put in swimming for water safety when I was little with my mom and we did the Mommy and Me classes. I went up the ladder and ended up joining the YMCA swim team. After that, I moved to my swim club around age 13. I was kind of old for people who usually start club swimming but I surprisingly had a lot of success in that.

Why did you choose to come to UC Davis? Was it specifically the swim program?

I didn’t know I was on UC Davis’ radar. I hadn’t contacted UC Davis myself so when I got the call I was pretty surprised. I was very shy on my recruit trip, but I really enjoyed the team and the coaches. They could see success was in the future if I followed through with the program.  

What was it like first coming to UC Davis to compete and what was the feeling contributing to the fourth conference win in six seasons?

We do a lot of team bonding when we come the first two weeks before school starts to train. I didn’t know anyone up here but I got to know the team a lot more and became more comfortable.

Did finding out you qualified for these trials change your way of thinking or change the way you were treated by the team as a freshman swimmer?

When I first saw my trials I was really excited because I progressed relatively fast in the sport, so it was really exciting when I found out. It changes how I train in the water in the sense that I have a goal I am aiming for. I always think of that goal when I am having a hard practice or something like that.

What is the overall feeling being a first year and setting all these season records, along with six NCAA “B” standards, and narrowly beating some of UC Davis’ overall records?

It’s pretty cool seeing those articles. It’s fun because my parents are always really excited to see them.

How do you manage to focus on everything in your school and social life knowing the trials are such a big opportunity?

I treat it as, you are a student and you are an athlete, so you have to get your studying done. It’s a lot of time management. You get a taste of it in high school, which helps when you come to college.

Mentally how do you approach and prepare going to these trials and having such a big challenge to face? Is it nerve racking or are you feeling calm about it?

Now that they are next month, I am excited but also nervous. I want to do well. I am going to use this as an opportunity to race, get the experience, and try to aim to get best times. I am nervous because it is such a big venue, but I am excited because it is a new experience.

What happens if you place in the Olympic Trials?

For trials since there are so many people, there is a preliminary swim, where everyone competes, and then the semifinals and the finals. I would love to make it back to the semifinals. I don’t know if I can see myself making it to the finals this year, but maybe in the possible future. This year, I am focused on doing the best I can.

No matter what happens at the Olympic Trials in June, The California Aggie wishes Laughlin well in her performance at the trials, and hopes she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind too.

Written by: Ryan Bugsch – sports@theaggie.org

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