By: Kaitlyn Marlowe 

Erica Laning, a senior at HVA, qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 200 meter and 400 meter freestyle events. Laning placed 69th out of 108 in the women’s 200 meter freestyle event and 39th out of 102 in the women’s 400 meter freestyle event.

 Laning did not believe the Olympic Trials were an option until last summer. She qualified for the Olympic Trials by meeting the time requirements for the 200 meter and 400 meter freestyle events at a USA sanctioned meet. Laning went to Omaha, Nebraska for the Olympic Trials for seven days.

   “When you go to Trials you try to look like you have been there before and not star struck,” Laning said. “I got to see Missy Franklin and swam against Katie Ledecky and Allison Schmitt.”

 “The experience was exciting, but it was intimidating to swim against gold medalists Katie Ledecky.” said Laning.    

 “I think after not swimming well and watching other people not swim well and seeing that they were okay with it was really big for me,” Laning said. “Learning even though I didn’t swim fast doesn’t mean I suck.”

 Laning’s daily schedule to prepare for the Olympic Trials consisted of swim workouts from 5:30-7a.m., going to school and going back to practice from 4:45-7:30p.m.

 “I don’t sleep sometimes, but Hardin Valley is understanding and always willing to work with me.” said Laning.

 Laning’s coach and five time coach at Olympic Trials Larry Hough said, “I told her to enjoy the week of Trials and use it as a learning experience for her return in 2020.” He also said that even though Trials are the “Super Bowl” of swimming and she should treat it like any other meet.

 “It was incredible to watch Erica at Trials. I’ve watched her grow physically and mentally over ten years. She has goals of going to Tokyo in 2020 and I have no doubt that she’ll make it.”, said Sydney Ragsdale, a swimmer at Hardin Valley and longtime teammate of Laning.

 “It is exciting watching the Olympics now, but I wish I was there. Seeing the qualifying events is sad because I know I can swim faster than some of the athletes, but I didn’t at Trials.”

 Laning is working towards the 200 and 400 meter freestyle events for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Her goals are to learn how to compete at meets like the Olympic Trials without being nervous. She will also focus on the mental aspect of her sport.

Laning started swimming when she was five-years-old. She swam with Atomic City Aquatic Club before switching to Tennessee Aquatics. She now swims for Hardin Valley Academy.

 Laning said, “ I plan on continuing my Olympic journey at Arizona State in the fall of 2017.”