Towson’s Meredith Budner was the top mid-major performer at NCAA’s last year, when she took 2nd in both the 500 and 1650 freestyles in her final collegiate meet.
Despite her impressive collegiate performance, many might have noticed that she didn’t make so much as a ripple at this year’s USA Swimming National Championships. That’s because shortly before finishing her NCAA career, over winter break last season, she traveled to Israel to get her citizenship, and was busy overseas competing in the Israeli Nationals.
At that meet, she went 7-for-7 in her finals, including four individual championships, to introduce herself to Israeli swimming. Her winning times were nothing spectacular (8:52 in the 800 free, 4:51 in the 400 IM), but her focus was this week’s World University Games.
In just about 8-months as a member of the Israeli National Team, Budner has already broken the National Records in the 200, 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles and 400 IM.
She is officially representing the Hapoel Swim Club in Jerusalem, which is by far the nation’s dominant swim club that has won every National Team title since 1991.
She made the move in order to find an easier road to the Olympics. In the United States, where she would be competing with the likes of Chloe Sutton, Kate Ziegler, and Katie Hoff at the Olympic Trials, the task seemed monumental. As an Israeli, her first opportunity to make the team was to earn her Olympic A Standards at the World University Games this week. which she already did once yesterday by way of her 8:44.81 for an 11th-place finish.
That lowered her own Israeli Record, but missed the Olympic automatic qualifying mark. She’ll have another chance in today’s 400 free, where her goal time will be 4:09.35. Her career-best time is a 4:14 from the Santa Clara Grand Prix.
Budner’s improvement since graduation has been exponential. In the 800, for example, she’s already improved her career-best by 12 seconds.