Meet first-time Olympian Abbey Weitzeil. Weitzeil is a sprint freestyle specialist and was champion of both the 50 and 100 freestyles at the 2016 US Olympic Trials in Omaha earlier this summer. Though only 19-years-old and not even a college freshman–she chose to defer her freshman year at Cal by one year to focus on Rio–Weitzeil is the American Record Holder in the 50 yard freestyle. In this short 71-second video, Weitzeil describes how she didn’t like her first season of competitive swimming and quit thereafter, due to the challenging nature of the sport. Like a champion, Weitzeil got back into the pool and became a force to be reckoned with that will make for a serious medal-threat in Rio.
Relative to the other members of the US Olympic Swim Team, Weitzeil got a “late” start to her swimming career, as she did not join a swim team until age 9. Weitzeil competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials at age 15, though she did not make the team and says she did not know how to use the emotions she felt at the 2012 Trials to her advantage. She describes making the Olympic Team as a more recent goal, but not a thought she seriously considered at her first Trials. Now a seasoned veteran with international experience under her belt, Weitzeil knows how to race under pressure and perform at her best, for herself and for the USA.
The current American record-holder in the 50 yard freestyle, Weitzeil also at one point also held the American record in the 100 freestyle. Her time from of 46.29 from 2014 Winter Junior Nationals stood until it was broken in March of 2015 by sprint superstar Simone Manuel, who placed 2nd to Weitzeil in both the 50 and 100 freestyles at the 2016 US Olympic Trials in Omaha. Though she did not break Amanda Weir’s American record from 2009, Weitzeil’s swim in Omaha in the 100 freestyle did set a new U.S. Open record, taking Cate Campbell‘s name off the board.
Last summer in Kazan at the FINA World Championships, Weitzeil picked up a bronze medal as a member of the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. Prior to Kazan Weitzeil also competed at the 2015 World University Games where she took home a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 100 freestyle relay and silver medal in the 100 freestyle. She also competed in the 50 freestyle, placing 5th. (Incoming freshman are usually allowed to compete at WUGs, but for further clarification regarding WUG eligibility, the criteria can be found here.) In 2014 Weitzeil represented Team USA in both the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, where she brought home a silver medal as a member of the 4 x 100 freestyle relay, and at the Short Course World Championships, where she brought home a gold and two silvers as a member of the 200 mixed freestyle relay, 200 women’s freestyle relay, and 4 x 100 women’s freestyle relay, respectively.