NEW ORLEANS, La.–August 8. TULANE University swimming standout Linda McEachrane will compete in the 100-meter freestyle in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee announced recently.
Tulane put out the word, with excitement, about a women they believe is the only active varsity student-athlete its had participate in the Games. It is another version of the many Olympic experiences SwimInfo is happy to share with you.
As told by Tulane:
McEachrane, the reigning conference USA Freshman Swimmer of the Year, is a native of Petite Valley, Trinidad. She posted a time of 58.00 in the 100 free at a TTOC sanctioned time trial to earn a spot on the Olympic team. She will compete in the preliminary heats on the morning of Aug. 18 with semifinals slated for later that afternoon and the finals scheduled for Aug. 19.
“I’m very excited, but I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” McEachrane said. “I guess whenever I get there, it’ll sink in some, but that’s over three weeks away and I’ve got a lot of training to do between now and then.”
McEachrane becomes the first Tulane student to participate in the Olympics while still in school since 1972 when David Berger went to Munich as a weightlifter on the Israeli team. According to available records, she will be the first active Green Wave varsity student-athlete to participate in the Olympics.
“This is a once- maybe twice-in a lifetime opportunity for her,” Tulane head coach Daniella Irle said. “It reinforces what we have always said about Linda: that she has the raw talent to compete among the top athletes on an international level. I think this will be a catalyst to much better things for her. The expectations she will have for herself will be much higher, and as an Olympian, she becomes that much of a bigger role model to her teammates here at Tulane.”
The Olympic berth is the latest honor in what has been a very productive rookie campaign for McEachrane and the Green Wave. One of 15 swimmers to form the first Tulane team since the 1989-90 season, McEachrane and the Green Wave posted a 13-3 dual meet record, finished fifth in the Conference USA Championship despite not fielding a diving program, and posted a cumulative team GPA of over 3.1.
Individually, McEachrane won the Conference USA Championship in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, was named third-team All C-USA recognition in the 100-yard breaststroke, and earned C-USA Freshman Swimmer of the Meet honors at the league meet back in February.
In addition, McEachrane posted NCAA provisional qualifying times in the
50- and 100-yard freestyles, and was selected to participate in the national championship, where she posted career-best times in both events.
“Everything I learned at Tulane really helped me in the time trial,” McEachrane said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this fit in my life. Back home, if you didn’t feel good, you could take a day off. (At Tulane) we worked hard every day, and it’s helped my abs, my turns and my technique.”
While McEachrane’s hard work has paid off with a trip to Greece, she nearly did not make the cut. Just a week before last Wednesday’s time trial, she was slated to participate in the Carribbean Island Swimming Championship in Jamaica, and failed to qualify in both the 100-meter freestyle, as well as her best event, the 50-meter free.
“I didn’t have a good meet,” McEachrane said. “My fitness level was high, but I didn’t perform the way I expected. I don’t know what happened, but I was able to come home to Trinidad and gave it another chance.”
She decided to put the experience behind her and made the cut as a “B” standard qualifier from her country. A country may enter as many as two athletes per event if both athletes meet the “A” standard. However, if the country has no “A” standard qualifiers, they can send their highest “B” standard. McEachrane’s 58.00 met the “B” standard, and thus, she will be the only one from her country to participate in the 100-meter free.
“She and I e-mailed, and she was well aware of the errors she made,” Irle said of McEachrane’s performance at the CISC. “She went out too slow, and that’s one of the errors she made during the early part of our season. We were able to correct it before the Conference USA Championship and she won a pair of league titles. She knew her mistake last week, and was able to correct it once again.”
The Olympic swimming program consists of 26 individual events and six relay events for both the men and the women. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for Aug. 13 and the closing ceremony is slated for Aug. 29. All swimming events of the Athens Olympics will be held in the main pool of the Olympic Aquatic Center in Maroussi from Aug. 14-21.
“Linda is the epitomizes the type of team we have here at Tulane: a great athlete and a great student,” Irle said. “But we have a saying on our team that it takes a lot of individuals to make a team, and her teammates really helped develop Linda during her freshman year. As a result, she’s been able to do the things she’s done, and now she’s an Olympian.
“She’ll be (at Tulane) for four more years, with the next three being as a student-athlete. This is not the best of her career. She’ll get another Olympiad and that is the best stretch she can be on. She can go into this Olympics blind, gain the experience, and bring that experience not only back to our team next year, but also to the 2008 Olympics if she makes it.”