While some other high school students spent an entire Saturday preparing for their prom, Maggie McCord and Sara Borendame were preparing for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team time trials.
They still went to prom, but got ready in the locker room of the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center at the University of Arizona where they spend most of their free time these days.
McCord, who will compete in the 50-meter freestyle, and Borendame who will compete in the 100-meter breaststroke, are honored their hard work and determination has taken them this far.
“In the end, it is worth it,” Borendame said. “I’ve been swimming for basically my whole life and now I have accomplished my ultimate dream. Ever since I was little, this is what I wanted to do. It has been my goal to get to the Olympic trials.”
She had to quit piano lessons when she was younger so she could allot more time for swim practice.
Borendame, who recently finished her junior year at Ironwood Ridge High School, started swimming competitively when she was about seven years old.
Though she played numerous sports when she was younger, over the years, swimming took over and became a comforting place.
“It’s a place where I can get away from all of the school stuff and everything else,” Borendame said. “It’s a place for me to be me and where I can do my own thing.
“When your face is down in the water, you can’t talk to anyone else.”
For McCord, she got her feet wet when she was in first grade swimming in a summer league but didn’t take it very seriously.
It wasn’t until she was in the eighth grade when she started swimming year round.
“I just had so much fun with it,” she said.
She enjoyed the friends and having an activity to keep her occupied during the summer months, but she also enjoyed winning.
Borendame and McCord currently practice eight times a week for the Tucson Ford Aquatics Club. Every day, Monday through Friday in the afternoon and they also practice in the mornings on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Each practice lasts more than two hours.
“These aren’t ‘coming in, swimming 300 meters and going home’ workouts,” said swim coach Johno Fergusson. “You are looking at anywhere between 6,000 meters and 7,000 meters a workout.”
Fergusson says competitive swimming requires a certain amount of dedication and discipline. As swimmers get older, that discipline needs to be applied even more.
“And these girls just do it,” Fergusson said. “And that is probably why they are going to (Olympic time) trials. That is what separates them from the others.”
For the girls, they enjoy having a coach like Fergusson to push and motivate them when they lose their inner strength.
“Johno is probably the best things that has happened to me, swimming wise,” McCord said. “Every day he is out there putting up with us.
“He won’t give up on us, and he has this energy,” she continued. “He is always excited about swimming and seeing us swim. When you hit that stroke just right he is like, ‘Yes!’ You can see that excitement in his face.”
For Borendame, her coach is also a mentor and always available for advice.
“I am here almost everyday after practice talking with him, telling him, ‘oh I didn’t feel good today,’ or ‘I’m tired, what can I do?’ He is always there with advice and new ideas of things to try,” she said.
Fergusson enjoys working with swimmers like Borendame and McCord who attempt to make themselves better.
“I like the fact that I can stand up and throw a million different things at these two for them to think about and to do while they are swimming and they will get up and do it wholeheartedly. They are always willing to try and do new things and just to better themselves.”
Though the ultimate goal to swim in the Olympic Team time trials is to then go on to compete in the Olympics, McCord and Borendame are trying to focus on their next race, which will take place June 8-10 at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center where the two are trying to meet the cutoffs for other swimming events.
For Borendame, she is looking to qualify for the Olympic Team for the 200-meter breaststroke, which has a cutoff time of 2 minutes, 35.99 seconds. McCord is looking to also qualify in the 100-meter freestyle, which has a cutoff time of 57.19 seconds.
But despite that swim meet, the two can’t help but think about the U.S. Olympic Team time trials.
“I am really excited just for the experience,” Borendame said. “Normally I get really nervous before my meets and freak out because they are really big, but I am mostly excited this time around because we get to swim on an upper level with some of the best in the world.”
For McCord, making it to the time trials is justification for all of her time and dedication.
“It means a lot to me,” McCord said. “It’s kind of a validation of all of the work we have put in over the years. It reminds me that there is a pay off. You go through all of the hard work and the days where you feel miserable, there is a reason for it.”
The two will head, with their team, to Omaha, Nebraska June 25 – Aug. 2 for the team time trials to compete and represent the United States in the 2012 London Olympic Games.