Photo courtesy of Genny Pittman.
HHS student Genny Pittman qualifies for 2012 Olympic Trials
Genny Pittman in the pool and ready to compete.
Sixteen-year-old Homewood High School student Genny Pittman has advanced to the U.S. Olympic Trials Swim Meet in Omaha at the CenturyLink Center that begin June 25.
Pittman will compete in the 100-meter backstroke. She qualified with a time of 1:03.48 at Auburn’s Richard Quick Invitational on June 15, the last qualifying opportunity before the Olympic Trials Meet.
The required qualifying time is 1:03.99. Pittman is the only high school-aged swimmer from the Birmingham area who has qualified for the 2012 Trials. Of USA Swimming’s 300,000 athletes, less than one percent qualified.
“Qualifying for Olympic Trials is something I’ve had as a goal since eighth grade,” Pittman said. “I attended a national meet in Texas (USA Swimming’s Grand Prix Series) and got a taste for national competition. (My coach) Brian (Wrighton) and I talked about how cool it would be to qualify for Trials, and at that point it felt like a realistic goal.”
At the end of 2010, she was poised for a breakout year when she was sidelined by mononucleosis. The setback forced her to reassess her goals while experiencing some big disappointments in the pool.
“Last summer, my Southeasterns (regional swim meet) was not exciting. Then, I went to nationals and I was very discouraged,” Pittman said. “After each race, Brian and I would talk about what I could do, he helped me stay focused. My family supported me, my friends were really great. I spent a lot of time at the gym in August. Then I just decided I didn’t want to look back after Trials and see all of what I didn’t do.” With renewed focus, Pittman secured her spot at the Trials.
In Omaha, Pittman faces a highly competitive field with only the top two swimmers in each event making the Olympic Team. Both Pittman and Coach Wrighton are looking at this meet with a wider perspective.
"To compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials gives Genny to opportunity to showcase her abilities at the highest national level meet we have in this country, and be seen by all the major collegiate swimming powerhouses,” said Wrighton. “It is quite simply, the fastest meet in the world."
Pittman said she wants to swim faster than Auburn, let college coaches see her and make Birmingham Swim League proud. She also admits she’s excited to see Olympians Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps while competing against the world’s best backstrokers, Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin.
“I’m constantly making sacrifices and compromises, all the time. Friday nights it’s hard to go out to a football game and be with my friends because I know I have practice at 6:45 Saturday morning and it’s always the hardest of the week. At school I take every opportunity I have to finish homework. My teachers are very supportive and my friends understand and make do with my schedule.”
Pittman has yet to bask in her success as she has already replaced her Trials goals with new ones. Thinking ahead, she said, “I want to reset my high school state record (100 backstroke), and I’m hoping to go to Short Course Juniors, become more competitive and stay on the national radar.”