Taylor Ruck Reflects on Resurgent NCAA Title: ‘It was Remembering I am a Racer and I Can Finish Races’

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Taylor Ruck knew the work she had put in. She knew how difficult the pandemic had been, but she also knew what she was capable of as she stepped onto the blocks last March.
Isolation in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, emotional struggles and an eating disorder were finally in the rear view.

Ahead of her, open water and a chance to turn the page into the next phase of her career.

Ruck took full advantage of the opportunity and swam to the NCAA championship in the 200-yard freestyle. She touched the wall, looked up and was overcome with joy.

“It was one of my lifetime goals to win an individual event at NCAAs. That was one of the best moments of my career,” Taylor Ruck told Swimming World.

But even more important than the victory was how she got there, both during the race and the training leading up to it.

“Coming out of Canada and being back in this environment, it was important for me to remember my whole life isn’t swimming. I had better balance with how I approached practices and my time out of the water. Having other outlets to devote my energy to was very helpful. Having (Greg Meehan‘s) input was big, too. He is just a very steady guy and a really great listener. Becoming reacquainted with his style was a good transition,” Ruck said. “Training last year was getting back in the flow of things and being less nervous in approaching races.”

During the race, Ruck felt a sense of confidence that she hadn’t in years.

“It was about not letting the mental block be the wall that I hit. It was remembering who I am. I am a racer and I can finish races,” Taylor Ruck said. “I was paying attention to everyone else throughout the race while I was all in. I felt a moment of being awareness and presence that I forgot in the past. Living through that again and experiencing it was a lot of joy, seeing the result.
It was joy and inspiration of what could come next.”

Ruck qualified for the 2022 World Championships and World Short Course Championships and swam well for Canada.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Now, next is aiming to defend her NCAA title as Stanford will try to keep pace with two-time defending team champion Virginia, as she also prepares to qualify for the Olympics next eyar.

“I feel like this year, I haven’t been thinking about the Olympics. It is not in the forefront of my mind. I have other life stressors right now. But I am also trying to soak it up because it is probably one of my last years of swimming, and I want to take advantage of the meets and be in the moment,” Ruck said.

That is a big thing she took away from the pandemic. Ruck began to make sure she found enjoyment with everything she was doing from school to swimming and everything in between.

“A big thing is the people here,” she said. “I feel like I learn so many new things every single day. That growth inspires me. I think I lost a little bit of that hope when I was in Canada because everything was the same. I am a creature of switching things up. I love to explore and travel and I need that. But COVID didn’t really allow that. Being able to do that here and go off campus to the beach. Plus I have really fun classes this year. That definitely puts a smile on my face.”

Then it was time to work.

“I lost some of my momentum. I had to built it back up. Having the goal of winning at NCAAs came out at the beginning of the season. He told me it might not look pretty but he would get me there. Putting my trust in him to have a plan – he is a very meticulous guy – really helped,” Taylor Ruck said. “We talked and I could see the light in his eyes. That gives me a lot of inspiration and motivation to keep working hard.”

That motivation led Ruck to compete for Canada at both world championship meets this year, traveling to Budapest in the summer and Australia in December.

“Budapest was loud and wild. It gets me going when people are super into it. It was the same in Australia. I was happy with the 100 free. It showed me returning back to 2016-17 me. But the energy faded after a few bad performances. There could have been a better focus on my part,” she said.

Another lesson learned as she transitioned to short course and her senior college season. The World Short Course racing validated everything she had been working on.

“Short-course worlds was different. I hadn’t done that since high school. And during the collegiate season, it is not really catered to swimming fast. I just wanted to have fun. But I was super excited for the results. I don’t remember time wise how I did, but the technique was there and I had a lot of fun racing,” Ruck said. “I found that all encouraging for the next step.”

Each step in 2022 was huge for Ruck. She is hoping 2023 will be even bigger steps.

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Swim mom
Swim mom
1 year ago

Good Luck Taylor- so impressed with everything you have done from when you were ity bitty on SAC! You make SAC proud!! ❤️

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