June 30, 2008
CalBears.com spoke to California women's swimmer Lauren Rogers before the end of the 2007-08 school year about her dream of competing in the Summer Olympics. A junior in the recently completed college season, Rogers helped the Golden Bears take fifth place at the NCAA Championships in March. She competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials' 100-meter backstroke preliminaries on Monday morning.
CalBears.com: What events are you trying to qualify for?
Rogers: "I'm swimming the 200 back and the 100 back, but I'm primarily hoping on making the team in the 100 back."
CalBears.com: What kind of sacrifices have you made in trying to reach the Olympics?
Rogers: "I've always wanted to go the Olympics since I was little. I qualified for trials at my first national meet. I went to the Olympic trials in 2004 not really expecting to make it but going to have fun. I ended placing fifth in the 100 back, which was surprising to even make it to finals my first time there. I think this year, I'm going in with a legitimate shot of making it. It gives me a different mental perspective so I'm hoping that will help more. It was kind of hard for a little bit because I wasn't swimming very well last year; I had some health issues like anemia. This year, I've been swimming a lot better and I think I have a pretty good shot of making it."
CalBears.com: How challenging is it to be in school, competing for Cal and training for the Olympics?
Rogers: "It's really hard. Obviously at Cal, the academics are going to be quite challenging. At least the Olympic trials are in summer so that gives us at least a month to refocus. Yes, we've been training for trials for the past four years, but I think right now is when everyone's getting really focused."
CalBears.com: When did you first dream of going to the Olympics?
Rogers: "When I first decided I wanted to go to the Olympics, I was really young. I didn't really understand how difficult it was, I just decided I was going. As I grew up, I learned how difficult it was to make the team, which was discouraging. But I found that I still had the abilities if I believed in myself enough to make it. Especially after the 2004 trials, when I came a lot closer than I expected, that was kind of a wake-up call for me. Since then, I've had a more realistic approach to making the team."
CalBears.com: How has Cal helped you attain this dream?
Rogers: "Cal has done a lot in helping me grow. I've had to work through some hard times. Cal has helped me grow and mature as a woman. It's also helped me mentally in taking on the challenge of making the team."
CalBears.com: Is there anyone you look up to as a role model?
Rogers: "I've always looked up to Natalie Coughlin. She swims the same events as me. I've been kind of living in her shadow since I was younger because we swam on the same club team and went to the same high school and I went to the same college as her. Since I do swim the same events as her, which is hard because if I had gone to any other school, I could have broken school records. I think that helps me to always take that first step and not fall short of my capabilities."
CalBears.com: Who has been the biggest influence on you and your training?
Rogers: "My parents, obviously. They were the ones that would get me up at 4:30 in the morning and drive me to 5 o'clock morning practice, cooked me my meals so I could stay healthy and train. They obviously had a good role in supporting me and keeping me going. They played a huge role in helping me stay with the sport and do the little things."
CalBears.com: When did you first start swimming?
Rogers: "I first started swimming a summer rec league. The only reason I got in the pool was because we had just moved to California when I was six, it was hot, and my parents wanted to get to know people in the neighborhood. We wanted to join the swim club, but membership was all full so I tried out for the swim team. The coach said I was really good and I took to it and just loved the sport. Being good at it was an added on plus. I swam summer league for a few years then started going year round when I was 10, and I swam with that team until I came to Cal."