Feature by Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, October 31. OLYMPIC Trials is one of the fastest swim meets in the United States, and it's arguably the most nerve-wracking. Whether it's a seasoned vet or a newcomer to the national scene stepping up on the blocks, hundreds of swimmers have been known to crumble under the pressure. At the 1988 Trials, now 38 year-old Walnut Creek Masters swimmer, Alison Zamanian was one of those swimmers.
Zamanian was no stranger to the national scene, having competed at Nationals before; but Trials were a different story. Competing in her first Trials in the 400 IM, Zamanian experienced nerves like she never had before. She cut herself shaving before the race, and had blood dripping down her arm at the start as her entire family watched from the stands. Needless to say, it wasn't quite the experience she had dreamed about.
"I was a nervous wreck," she recalled. "I don't think I've ever been that nervous in my life. It was very intimidating. I wish I would have been able to handle my emotions better."
Twenty years later, Zamanian seems to be much improved in that area. As one of the top women in the 35-39 age group in the United States, Zamanian has been to quite a few big meets and has racked up several victories as well.
At the Pacific Masters Short Course Championships earlier this month, she won the 200 free (2:10.92), 400 free (4:31.35), 200 breast (2:52.93), and 100 fly (1:06.36). Additionally, Zamanian holds the Masters world record in the 35-39 age group in the 800m free (short course) with a time of 9:12.97, which she set in 2006.
A hectic work and family schedule make juggling practice a challenge, but Zamanian hasn't lost sight of her short and long term goals.
"For now, I think I need to make sure I keep a level balance with my husband and three kids; it's not worth it if everyone suffers for something I want to do," she said. "I would like to go to Sweden in two years for Worlds, though. We might turn it into our family trip."
Zamanian has been training hard three or four days a week, and if she keeps that up she'll certainly set herself up well for Sweden.