Interview: Erica Sullivan On Bouncing Back After Should Injury, Disappointing Summer

by Ben Dornan 0

December 03rd, 2022 Big 12, College, National, News, Video


At the 2022 Minnesota Invite, Erica Sullivan picked up a pair of victories over the first few days in the 800 freestyle relay and individual 500 freestyle. Sullivan swam a 1:45.47 200 freestyle split on the Texas A relay, contributing to the team’s 6:59.67 victory over Cal’s 7:02.04. Sullivan discussed her own performance in the relay, as well as her pride in her teammate Kyla Leibel (1:44.75), Kelly Pash (1:43.45), and Emma Sticklen (1:46.00):

“I’m pretty happy with that. I think this time last year on the relay I went a [1:]46 and this year I was able to go a 45, so pretty happy. I’m working on speed and trying to focus on my 200 free a little more so I’m happy with the way I executed it. I’m so proud of all my teammates always and I’m glad we were able to throw down and put something together that was really exciting.”

In the 500 freestyle, Sullivan swam a 4:39.26 to out-touch Cal’s Rachel Klinker and Ayla Spitz who hit a 4:40.30 for silver and 4:40.47 for bronze, respectively. Sullivan landed on the 500 freestyle podium at NCAAs last season when she swam a 4:35.92 behind Lia Thomas‘ 4:33.24 and Emma Weyant‘s 4:34.99.

Sullivan began her NCAA career in 2021 following her Olympic silver medal-winning performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Following her freshman season, Sullivan had what she described as a frustrating summer, which included a shoulder injury that kept her from competing at the 2022 International Team Trials. Sullivan explained what kind of an impact the disappointing summer had on her coming into this NCAA season:

“It definitely added fuel to the fire. I was not happy with how this summer ended at all, I was super frustrated and honestly, it was just one of those things where there’s nothing you could really do about it like the shoulder went out and I was just so scared to get back into it hit high yardage again. So then I tried to flip that mindset around going into this season and just told myself ‘don’t be scared of the practices, don’t be scared of the yards.'”

With the shoulder injury under control, Sullivan also discussed her mindset heading into the season:

“I just wanted to swim confidently, that was my main goal. So I was super nervous today but being able to put my goggles on and just race. And I think sometimes being an athlete and putting so much pressure on pressure on yourself, especially after the Olympics, it’s hard to just race because you set a bar for yourself that’s so high. So just being able to do that again felt really good.”

After the 500 freestyle victory, Sullivan competed in the 200 freestyle and pulled off a 9th place finish by swimming a 1:46.33 in the B final. Sullivan’s time would have been fast enough for a 5th place finish overall had she made it into the A final. On the final night of the meet, she will swim 1650 freestyle, in which she is the top seed.

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