Returning to the University of Wyoming for her junior year, Kelsey Conci was expecting another good year of representing her school on the swim team, but she hadn’t anticipated the news that her coach gave her Labor Day weekend.
Conci qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympic Trials during the summer, a feat that still has her in disbelief considering how close she was to the cutoff.
“I barely made it,” the 2008 Moffat County High School graduate said.
The qualifying time for the trials is 26.39 seconds.
Conci reached her time of 26.37 in the 50-meter freestyle while competing in July at the 2010 Speedo Western Section Long Course Championship in Oregon.
The distinction is one of many for the swimmer, having been a force of nature at Wyoming. At the 2009 Mountain West Conference Championships, she placed 11th in the 100-meter backstroke and 12th in the 50-meter freestyle.
This was carried over from her days at MCHS, when she and her twin sister, Caitlin, helped win the school a plethora of honors, including Kelsey’s state championship win in 2008.
Caitlin also swims at the college level for University of North Dakota, but Kelsey said there is no sibling rivalry resulting from her qualifying for the Olympic Trials.
“She was just really happy for me when she heard about it,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey added that she wouldn’t be surprised to see her twin qualify for the trials, though they won’t be competing against each other, since Caitlin swims in the butterfly-style races.
Kelsey has plenty of time to prepare for the trials, which won’t take place until July 2012. Her planning for the future stays within the next year, ranging from her team’s opening event this weekend to the national championships at the end of the season.
However, keeping the prospect of competing in the Olympics in mind has helped her hone her athletic skills, especially with the thought of going against swimmers like Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin.
“It’s helped me focus on my training a little but more,” she said. “Focusing on the long-term instead of the short-term, it helps me when I’m in the water.”
Kelsey said her major, which she recently changed from mechanical engineering to social sciences, also has helped her focus on her life in the pool.
“My work is the complete opposite now,” she said. “It used to be math and science, and now it’s reading and writing. It wouldn’t say it’s given me more time for practice but more effort. I used to be up until 11 (p.m.) every night, and now I can get to bed at about 9:30.”
Her day starts at 7:30 a.m., swimming about three miles four mornings per week. Other conditioning includes running and weightlifting.
“It gets to be exhausting,” she said.
The training schedule is one that’s familiar with all the Conci girls, including Kelsey and Caitlin’s older sisters, Cara and Brenna, who also swam for MCHS and graduated from Wyoming. Both the older siblings live in Nebraska, where the Olympic Trials will take place in Omaha.
Kelsey said she expects to see her sisters cheering her on.
“I’m sure I’ll have a lot of family and friends there,” she said.