Olympic swimming hopeful sees delay as chance for improvement

Posted at 4:09 PM, Apr 27, 2020

For 15-year-old Aislyn Barnett, swimming is in her blood. Her parents both swam in high school and college. She started swimming when she was about 4 years old just for fun, but for the last few years, she's taken her training up a notch.

"Probably just the last year or year or two, I’ve just kind of realized it was something that could be in my range and I could just be able to do it,” Barnett said. “So, I decided to make it a goal of mine and just work for it.”

And “it” is the Olympics. The 15-year-old swimmer qualified in the 200-meter breaststroke for the Olympic trials that were supposed to be in Omaha this June. Now, she'll have to wait until June of 2021.

"It’s a lot more time to improve, so I can do even better next year than I would have this year," said Barnett.

Barnett’s coach Tom Byorick says that’s not always the case though.

"If you had a kid who just graduated college and, you know, 22-year-old and took a job that’s starting in the fall and they were a trials qualifier, this would have been a great situation to swim in 2020. For that older athlete, I think this is a new challenge," explained Byorick.

For most of his swimmers, this could be a good thing. The nearly 1,200 swimmers who qualified for the Olympic trials will keep their spots for the trials next summer.

"I think in Aislyn’s case, she goes, hopefully. Not just going to go, but going to compete, and hopefully, make a big splash there," said Byorick.

"I was kind of excited and ready for this year, but at the same time, I know it’ll be better to train and get better," said Barnett.

More time to improve her chances to make the Olympic team. Since all of the pools have been closed from shut downs amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Byorick has moved practices to land, having his athletes work on strength training and endurance.