As the current crop of U.S. Olympian swimmers compete at the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan, a large number of aspiring athletes train and prepare for their day in the spotlight.
Kayla Han Swimmer
Kayla Han, a 13-year-old swimmer with the La Mirada Armada who trains at the Splash Aquatics Center, is one such athlete.
“It’s a big step toward my goal of winning an Olympic gold medal,” Han declared. “I’m still working really hard for the Olympics in three years, and this is great experience for when I compete again.”
Han, who turned 13 on May 31, made headlines on the national stage as the youngest swimmer to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this year.
On the day before her 13th birthday, she competed in the Speedo Grand Challenge at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine and placed second.
She competed in the 400-meter individual medley and made it to the Olympic Trials. With a time of 4:50.70, Han made it into the Wave I of the Olympic Trials, where the qualifying time was 4:51.79.
Han, who has been swimming competitively since he was five years old, stated, “Going into the meet when I got the trials cut, I certainly wanted to get it.” I was prepared to put in a lot of effort in order to succeed.
400 Freestyle in a World-Record Time of 4 Minutes
On the first night, she swam a 400 freestyle in a world-record time of 4 minutes, seventeen seconds, beating out three-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel by more over five seconds. In 2005, Beisel established a new world record.
Interestingly, The Trials were Where Han Finally Got to Meet Her Hero.
Han: “It was a great coincidence that I met her at trials after I beat her NAG record, because she’s someone I look up to a lot.”
While qualifying for the Olympic Trials was a huge accomplishment, Han’s incredible comeback and victory in the 400-meter individual medley was the moment that really made an impact.
Han, the youngest of the 1,400 swimmers who qualified for the trials, attracted a lot of attention with her impressive final sprint.
At age five, she ran in her first official race. Youngster was lagging in the third leg of the 100-meter individual medley (breaststroke). Before Han even reached the wall for her final turn home in the freestyle, she had already pulled away and won by a comfortable margin.
Although she did not place as highly in the B Final as she did in the Trials, at 5 feet, 5 inches in height, she still had a respectable showing. Going into the final 100 metres, Han was more than three lengths behind the leader (freestyle). Even though she was behind the top three swimmers going into the last turn, she caught up to them in the final 50 metres.
Freestyler Han came from well behind to touch the wall first, and the footage of the race went viral. The time she ran the entire race was 4 minutes and 51 seconds.
Han, who is known as Baby Beast by her teammates, admitted, “I was obviously a little bit nervous, but largely delighted about being the youngest.” “I just tried to take it all in and enjoy it,” she said.