Q&A: Senior ties for 2nd in national swimming competition, will represent Team USA in August (videos included)

Senior Amalie Fackenthal has qualified for the 2017 FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) World Junior Swimming Championships’ Team USA. Fackenthal tied for second with a time of 55.61 seconds in the 17-and-under female 100m free at the week-long Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships/World Championship at the IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Phillips 66 Championships were June 25-July 2, and Fackenthal competed in her qualifying event, the 100m free, on June 27.

The 2017 FINA Championships will be hosted by the U.S. and held at the same location from Aug. 23-28. As the title denotes, it is an international competition including 800 athletes from 167 countries.

Team USA, for which Fackenthal qualified, will consist of 24 women and 19 men.  

This six-day meet “will feature an early look at young athletes who will vie for positions on their respective nations’ Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games teams,” according to FINA.

Q: How did you qualify for the Phillips 66 Championships?

A: Each event has a certain time standard, and if you are as fast or faster than that, you get to go to competition.

So, for example, to swim at (Olympic Trials) you have to have a certain cut, the U.S. Open cut, and (that’s) very fast.

But this wasn’t Olympic, so I’m not sure what the cut was (It was 59.29 seconds, according to the USA Swimming website.)

Q: How was this competition in comparison to previous ones?

A: I went to Olympic Trials last summer, and that’s the top competition. It has a lot of hype and publicity, and (the Olympic committee) put a lot of money into it. You walk in and it looks nice, and there’s this giant arena and great hospitality.

(Phillips 66) is less publicized because it is not an Olympic event. (Although) it’s not the same level as Olympic Trials, it’s still a huge event.

(Phillips 66 event organizers) dress up the pool; they put these gigantic posters up advertising themselves.

Q: What other events did you compete in?

A: I  also did three other events at the competition: the 50 fly (June 28), the 50 free (July 1) and the 100 fly (June 29).  

For the 50 fly, I placed second with (a time of) 27.02 (seconds). The 50 free, I got fourth (with a time of) 25.76 (seconds).

I don’t know how I placed in the (100m) fly. My score wasn’t great, though – 101.88 (seconds).

Q: Why aren’t you competing in the event in which you placed second?

A: For all the other events they take the top two, but the 50 fly isn’t a traditional Olympic event, so they take only one.

Only the girl who got first is doing that event in the World Games.

Q: Was there anything particularly hard about the 100m fly?

A: It was on Thursday, after I had events on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

I had a lot of things going on outside of the pool. My body was tired; I was mentally tired.

Q: Were you stressed out?

A: I don’t get nervous. But I was dealing with a stomachache.

For three days in a row, I would get a stomachache at 6 p.m. It could’ve been nerves or maybe the tap water.

But I wasn’t as nauseous as I (have been before).

Q: What did you do when you weren’t competing?

A: Every night you become really nauseous. It’s completely exhausting; when you have hours of rest, you just want to be in bed and not move. I had one day off on Friday.

So I just stayed inside the hotel mostly.

Q: What was your goal?

A: My goal wasn’t to make the world team; it was just to do better than (I did at) the last meet.

I think more about racing the people next to me and winning than getting a specific time. When you are trying to make a team, time doesn’t matter, only place.

Q: What did you do right after you got out of the pool?

A: I was crying, so I didn’t say much.

I called my mom, but the connection was really bad. I could hear her just being really excited. I really have no idea (what my mom said); it was incoherent and lasted about nine seconds.

My dad texted me, and he was excited too. (He) was like, “Great job, Ami!”

Q: Were you surprised when you found out you qualified for the FINA competition?

A: Going into the meet, I wasn’t ranked for the junior competition anywhere near close to qualifying for Team (USA). I knew I was going to have to  work really hard for it.

But then when I found out I had qualified, I was super pleased.

Q: What exactly is the FINA competition?

A: So from my event, they take four (girls) for the Junior World team. I’m basically (going to be) a relay swimmer.

The fastest people from all over the world (will be there). It’s a world competition: the World Games.

The World Games aren’t the Olympics; the Olympics are every four years, and the World Games are every two years.

Q: Any preconceptions about your first world competition?

A: I have absolutely no idea since it’s my first time competing with swimmers from other nations, but I expect some very fast swimmers and a lot of fun racing people (I) don’t know.

Q: What will you do to prepare?

A: I just need to get stronger.

I didn’t have as much long course training (as I wanted).

Long course is different than short course because there’s less technique. It’s just about swimming and being fast, no walls or anything like that.

Q: Any advice for ambitious swimmers?

A: Practice every single day and have a goal.

A lot of kids on my team miss practices, but I try to never (miss) because the more you practice, the better. (Fackenthal’s practices are twice a day, three times a week.)

Senior Amalie Fackenthal (in the eighth lane) ties for second place in the 100m free with a time of 55.61 seconds.

Senior Amalie Fackenthal (in the first lane) places fifth overall in the 50m fly with a time of 27.02 seconds. As there were swimmers in other divisions in that race, Fackenthal’s time landed her second place within the 17-and-under division.

—By Chardonnay Needler

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