After only two seasons as a Gaucho, sophomore Anne Marie May already has a very impressive trophy case, but this summer she has a chance to add another memento that anyone in the world would be proud to own. As a 2008 All-American, May will travel to Omaha, Neb., in late June to take part in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and if her recent results are any indication, May may need to start brushing up on her Chinese.
Following a season in which she became only the fourth female Gaucho to be named Big West Swimmer of the Year, May headed to the NCAA Championships, where she turned in the performance of her life. On day one of the championships, the Carmel native finished the 50-meter freestyle in 22.15, breaking her own school record in the event and qualifying for that night’s finals. It was the first time in 22 years that a Gaucho would finish in the top eight in an NCAA Championship event, but May wasn’t satisfied with just making the final heat.
Despite being seeded seventh in the event coming into the championships, she swam the race of her life and touched the wall in third place. May’s time of 22.00 in the finals once again shattered her school record, and automatically qualified her as an All-American.
“[May’s finish was] the most significant individual performance for the program in my tenure as coach,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “She approached it like a veteran and had the swim of her life.”
Though the 50 free is her specialty, May also swam the 100 free at Nationals, an event in which she was seeded 33rd. May finished 26th in the prelims with a time of 49.13, once again lowering her school record.
“[Nationals] was an incredible experience and I was just so happy to be there that doing so well was a pleasant surprise,” May said. “I was really nervous but I hoped it would turn out well. I was really just happy to be in the final and I didn’t expect to come in third.”
In addition, May competed in a pair of relays, and not surprisingly, both relay squads broke school records. A consummate team player in a sport that is usually viewed as an individual one, May was thrilled to be able to share her experiences at Nationals with her teammates.
“There were five of us which was so much more fun, and a couple of other swimmers made the trip with us. It was great to have all of us together,” May said.
A Mid-Major All-American for a second straight year, May is now focusing on the Olympic Trials, where she’ll have to adjust from swimming short course to long course. Short course events – which include the Big West and NCAA Championships – are held at 25-meter pools with a flip turn after each lap, while the long course events feature 50-meter laps with no flip turn in the 50 free. After a season that included six first-place finishes at the Big West Championships, May is once again the underdog, entering the trials as the 34th seed in the 50 free. Representing her country in China may be a long shot at this point, but after setting a new school record virtually every time she jumped in the pool this season, May isn’t completely ruling it out.
“I’m really excited because I get to swim the 50 free which is my favorite event and I guess anything’s possible so I’d love to have [the Olympics] as a goal,” May said. “I haven’t thought about it too much and I’m still adjusting to long course events. It’s something fun to think about but I’m definitely not booking my ticket yet.”