Olympic trials were learning experience for CSU swimmers

Tyler Johnson

Colorado State has had the honor of having several of its student athletes represent nations the the Olympics. Former CSU athletes have participated in 22 Olympic games.

Ahead of the 2016 Olympic games, two CSU swimmers were able to travel to Omaha, Nebraska in the spring and participate in the 2016 United State Olympic Trials.

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Junior Katie Kicklighter and sophomore Haley Rowley put in hundreds of hours of work both in and out of the pool to be successful. The pair competed in four total events at the trials, one for kicklighter (50 freestyle) and three for Rowley (200 backstroke, 400 IM and 800 Freestyle).

The 2016 trials were the Olympic debut for Kicklighter, where she did her best to soak in the experience and take in the work ethic she was surrounded by.

“Participating at Olympic Trials is the next level of competition,” Kicklighter said. “The experience has shown me how much hard work goes into achieving your goals. I hope to apply this inspiration in and out of the pool.”

Assistant Colorado State swimming and diving coach Mackenzie Brown has stood by the two swimmers in their attempt to reach the next level, but understands the road to the Olympics is not easy.

“Their whole family is there watching them, and I feel for them knowing how stressed they are,” Brown said. “But I’m excited to know they are going to have a memory not a lot of girls get to experience.”

Both Rowley and Kicklighter made CSU proud with their performances at the trials. Rowley finished 61st in the 400 IM (4:55.79), 67th in the 200 back (2:16.80) and 76th in the 800 free (9:05.69). Kicklighter finished 135th in the 50 free (26.60).

For Kicklighter, swimming has been a part of her life since birth. Both her mom and aunt were swimmers and her aunt even competed at the NCAA level.

Along with representing CSU at the Olympic Trials, Kicklighter has shared some special moments with the rest of her team here at CSU.

“I think that my proudest moment as a ram is breaking the school record for the 200 medley relay,” Kicklighter said. “And being able to do it with seniors on the team was so special to me. It meant a lot to them and myself”.

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After finishing her undergraduate degree in business at CSU, Kicklighter plans on geting her MBA. After finishing her schooling, she plans to travel the world. In the meantime, swimming for Colorado State will remain a constant.

“(Swimming) has opened a lot of door, and I’ve meet so many great people through the sport,” Kicklighter said about her experiences swimming. “Swimming has been a great part of my life”.

The CSU women’s swimming team won’t be home until 2017, when they take on the University of Wyoming on Saturday Jan. 21. This dual meet will be held at the Moby Arena pool.

Collegian sports reporter Tyler Johnson can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TylerGjohnson20