Katie Meili has had the true definition of a breakthrough season thus far, sporting an unrested 1:06.50 in season and coming back to swim a 1:05.64 at the Pan American Games in Toronto.
The time currently ranks her second in the world only to world record holder Rute Meilutyte, and ranks her as the fastest American this season, “It’s been a long time coming,” said Meili. “I’ve been working on my stroke for a solid two years now, and I’ve known I’ve been capable of it.
“It’s really great to set a goal and achieve it.”
Meili is the second-fastest American breaststroker over the last two years. The only swimmer to be faster than her was Jessica Hardy in 2013. That puts Meili in a good position heading to make the team as the U.S Olympic Trials approach, but she thinks she will need to be even faster.
“In no means am I thinking it’s good enough,” said Meili. “All those girls are going to swim just as fast if not faster in the next coming weeks at worlds and through next year.”
If Meili is able to retain her position as the top breaststroker in the United States, it would mean a spot on next year’s Olympic team. That would also mean that she would be swimming on the United States’ 4x100m medley relay squad.
Meili gained international relay experience this past Saturday, swimming the breaststroke leg for the relay at the Pan American Games.
“This relay is one out of my dreams,” said Meili. “If you told 12-year-old me I was going to do a relay start off of Natalie Coughlin at an international meet I would have laughed in your face.”
Meili and team USA managed to capture gold and break their hours-old Pan American Games record.