‘I’m excited’: Central Va. swimmers qualify for 2020 U.S. Olympic trials

Updated: Jun. 14, 2019 at 4:29 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - One Chesterfield and three Henrico teens are heading to the big time, qualifying for the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials in swimming.

NOVA swimming club’s Zoe Dixon, 15, Josephine Fuller, 16, Megan Pulley, 17, and Grace Sheble, 16, each qualified for the trials scheduled for June 21-28, 2020, in Omaha, Nebraska.

"I'm excited to just swim," Pulley said.

But this isn’t just any typical swim meet; it’s to find out if these ladies have what it takes to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

“I get to race against other really fast people and I’m excited to see all these really famous people at the Olympic trials,” Fuller said.

They already know one famous Olympian - fellow NOVA swimmer Townley Haas. He took home gold at the Rio Olympics in the relay.

"To see one of your teammates get a gold medal in the relay at the Olympics – it’s like wow,” Pulley said. “He came from the same training we did.”

“He really inspires me because I know that if somebody like that came from NOVA then we can do the same thing,” Fuller said.

Two weeks ago Fuller and Dixon qualified for the trials. Fuller will swim in the 100-meter backstroke.

"Everyone is just so supportive after you get the cut,” she said. “It's the best feeling and you know you accomplished a big goal you've been working for, for so long."

Dixon will compete in the 400-meter individual medley and the 200-meter IM.

"During my 400-IM everyone was walking with me back and forth and it was the best feeling ever," Dixon said.

Pulley and Sheble qualified back in January. Pulley qualified in the 100-meter butterfly. Sheble qualified in several event including the 400-meter IM, 200-meter IM and 200-meter butterfly.

While the excitement about qualifications hasn’t worn off, they know there’s still a long road ahead.

“If you have a bad day at practice or you don’t feel like you’re going fast, I have the trials (to remind me) I should be going fast,” Dixon said.

“Knowing that I have (qualified) motivates me to try even harder,” Fuller added. And the work will get harder. “Training may get a little tougher, more intense as we go on,” Pulley said. “Then we’ll probably taper down a little before.”

“We’ll probably also start focusing on the events we’ll be swimming there, instead of doing a variety of things,” Sheble said.

However, these ladies are pros at handling a lot of things. From early morning practices, with alarms going off at 4 a.m., followed by a full day of school.

“They think we’re insane,” Sheble said about her classmates. “Some mornings it’s really, really tough getting up and you don’t want to do it but you know that in order to reach your goals you have to practice and you have to work hard. That’s what pushes me to go to practice."

This group of teens said the hard work is worth it, especially with the possibility of the Olympics in the future.

“Just keep trying,” Sheble said. “Stick with the sport if you love it.”

The teens hope that sharing their story will serve as an inspiration to the next generation of young swimmers.

They also give credit to their teammates for the support they give each other at meets.

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