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La Mirada Armada Swim Team Competes at the US Olympic Trials

La Mirada Armada heads to Olympic Trials

Caption The seven swimmers who qualified for the Olympic Trials are top row (l-r) Ryan Kao, Samantha Shellem, bottom row (l-r) Nicole Chang, Courtney Hanson and Jessica Marsh. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials took place in Omaha, NE. this past week starting on June 25 and will culminate Monday, July 2. Each team member has been training overtime these past few weeks. Photos by Taylor Williams.


For the seven Olympic hopefuls of the La Mirada Armada Swim Team life has become a little hectic, to say the least. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials took place in Omaha, NE. this past week starting on June 25 and will culminate Monday, July 2. Each team member has been training overtime these past few weeks in the hopes of having a great Olympic trials showing.
Besides the rigorous workout schedule, motivation plays a vital role in performance. We spoke with Richard Shipherd, head swimming coach of the La Mirada Armada who has coached two Olympians and helped five swimmers on to the U.S. National Teams. He was in the midst of preparing his team for one of their final workouts before the trials, but that didn’t stop him from pulling the swimmers aside individually and telling them what they needed to improve on and pumping them up for their next competition. Shipherd knows that every athlete responds differently to motivations so he works with each swimmer to plot strategies that gives them the confidence. This confidence in one’s ability and newly plotted strategy becomes their motivation. “We depend on intrinsic motivation,” says Shipherd, “extrinsic is way to shallow to affect success over the long term.”
Brennan Jacobsen, Courtney Hanson, Jessica Marsh, Kirstie Chen, Nicole Chang, Ryan Kao, and Samantha Shellem are the seven swimmers who qualified for the Olympic Trials.
For these dynamic swimmers, swimming has been a major component in their lives since their junior high years and for some since they were in elementary. If its one thing they all realize is that to be competitive in this sport it takes more than simply being present at practice everyday. Ryan Kao, 16, who competed this past Monday in the 400m free prelims at the Olympic Trials can attest to this. Kao said, “There is a lot of dedication, hours and hours of training, and you need a lot of mental toughness to get through the workouts.” Nicole Chang, 17, who also competed in the 400m free prelims this past Tuesday agrees with her teammate. “Coach Rick is always telling me that your most valuable coach is in your mind, she says, the worst coach is also in your mind.” This sport is extremely mental and a strong mind is a necessity to handle the rigorous workout schedule. The top swimmers swim an average of 9,000 meters a day in addition to doing land workouts for extra conditioning and strength.
Although there is no minimum age limit for the swimmers, all competitors had to make the standard time before June 18th in order to qualify for the Olympic Trials. All seven of the Armada swimmers met the qualifying standards throughout their various competitions last year. Courtney Hanson, only 14 years of age, hit the qualifying standard as a 13 year old. “I didn’t know I made it at first, she said, “my coach came over and said you got your trials cut. It was pretty exciting.” The fourteen-year-old swimmer is expecting to enter Mater Dei High School this fall as a freshman. Although, she may be the only one in her class to have such an experience under her belt.
Already in college are Brennan Jacobsen of Notre Dame, Kirstie Chen of Stanford, Jessica Marsh of University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Samantha Shellem who will join the UC Davis Aggies this fall as a sophomore. Jacobsen was in the same heat as Kao in the 400m free prelims on Monday, while Chen swam shortly after them in the 400m Individual Medley. Marsh, 19, Shellem, 20, and Chang, all competed in the 400m free prelims the following day. Shellem, a second time qualifier to the Olympic Trials also competed in the 200m free on Wednesday, while Chen doubled back to do the 200m fly on Thursday.
I had the opportunity to speak with them before their departure to the trials and they all seemed equally excited and honored to be performing at such a high level. Additionally, they were all working on last minute preparations such as pacing, making sure their stroke was just right, and focusing mentally on their competition. More than a week later and halfway done with the Trials, all of the swimmers have competed in their respective events with the exception of Hanson, the fourteen year old phenomenon, who will compete in the 200m breast stroke today. The final three heats will be televised, however to watch and cheer for Hanson consider tuning in to a live feed that can be found on the official U.S. Olympic Team Trials website. We wish them all well and safe travels back home and cannot wait to see whatever is in store next for the seven Olympic hopefuls.
Ryan Kao-
400m Freestyle 4:00.55 Q.T. 3:58.29;
Brennan Jacobsen-
400m Freestyle 4:07.76 Q.T. 3:58.28;
Kirstie Chen-
200m Butterfly 2:15.86 Q.T. 2:15.67; 400m Intermediate Medley 4:54.86 Q.T. 4:46.84;
Jessica Marsh-
400m Freestyle 4:29.14 Q.T. 4:18.73;
Nicole Chang-
400m Freestyle 4:26.39 Q.T. 4:17.24;
Samantha Shellem-
200m Freestyle 2:03.37 Q.T. 2:02.98; 400m Freestyle 4:20.05 Q.T. 4:15.28.
*Q.T. (qualifying time)

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