Hayley McGregory Looks to the Future

By Kristen Heiss

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, July 24. FOR Hayley McGregory, 2008 has been an epic year. After making a comeback at the 2007 Summer Nationals and winning the 100 backstroke, Hayley continued improving all the way to a world record in the 50 backstroke in March and another world record in the 100 backstroke at the 2008 Olympic Trials. After watching Hayley get third in the 100 backstroke in Omaha, the crowd seemed to let out a deflated "Oh…"

Not many people can claim that they have placed third four times at Olympic Trials over the course of four years: Hayley can.

Despite not making the team, Hayley has had an outstanding year. Sometimes it seems as though the goal that many athletes have of making the Olympic Team can often overshadow the successes these athletes have had. For Hayley, although she will not be competing in Beijing in August, there is no doubt that she has established herself as one of the world's best swimmers.

I had the chance to talk with Hayley this past weekend in her current hometown of Austin, Texas. Since Trials, I had been wondering what Hayley's future plans are. Would she continue to swim, despite missing the Olympic team for the fourth time?

The answer, Hayley told me, is yes. Hayley says she is going to continue swimming "as long as my body and mind allow me to." Right now, the plans are to train at least until 2011, but she says she is taking it "one season at a time."

Hayley feels that she has only begun to reach her potential, saying that she hasn't had a full year of training since college, and she is excited to see what she can do in the future. Hayley plans on continuing her training with Randy Reese, who she has been training with since leaving college after the 2005-2006 school year.

In 2004, Hayley said that although she was young, she had high expectations for the Olympic Trials and that getting third in 2004 was harder than it was in 2008.

In Omaha, Hayley said she was excited to swim because she had made so many changes, and all the changes paid off. Hayley and Randy decided to put a good swim out there in prelims and lay it all on the line in her 100 backstroke, because the prelim swim is the hardest race for her. Hayley didn't have any problems with swimming fast in prelims in Omaha: she broke the world record with a time of :59.15.

Although Hayley said she knew she was capable of breaking a world record, she said, "you never expect to see that you just broke one." Regarding her races in Omaha, Hayley said, "I swam as fast as I ever have, and it was worth it in the end."

So what motivates Hayley to continue on after all of the ups and downs of her swimming career? For Hayley, she says she lives for the racing.

She said she will "complain all through practice. I don't want to warm-up, I don't want to warm-down, but I love to race." Hayley says that racing lets her see where she is, but she doesn't need any extra motivators to get up behind the blocks. Hayley says, "Racing is like getting a paycheck." She says she competes for the thrill, and it's when she races that she knows the training she does is worth it.

Although the 2008 Olympic Trials didn't have the outcome she had dreamed of, there is still plenty of potential in Hayley's future. In 2012, we may find Hayley McGregory at Olympic Trials, still chasing after the Olympic dream.