Sophomore Zoe Dixon makes Olympic trials cut

The path to swimming in the Olympics is a long one, with many hurdles.

Sophomore Zoe Dixon has completed the first step, swimming a fast enough time to qualify for the Olympic Team Trials

At a swim meet the first weekend in June, Dixon earned Olympic trial cut times in the 400 and 200 Individual Medley (IM).

The individual medley consists of all four swimming strokes; butterfly, backstroke, breastroke and freestyle, all swum in a row.

To qualify for the Olympic trials in these events, one is required to swim a time of 4:51.79 or faster in the 400 IM and a time of 2:17.39 or faster in the 200 IM.

Most swimmers’ goal is to swim just fast enough to make the trials cut, but Dixon beat the cut by two seconds.

The Olympic trials take place June 21-28 in 2020 in Omaha, Nebr. 

 Swimmers who have earned qualifying times are able to participate in the Olympic trials with the possibility of earning a spot on the US Olympic Swim Team. 

Dixon’s swimming career began when she was about three years old, after watching her brother compete for years.

“I started swimming because my parents put my brother into lessons and he loved it, so they signed me up too,” said Dixon. 

Now more than a decade into her swimming career, much of Dixon’s free time is dedicated to the sport.

As a swimmer at Nova of Virginia Aquatics (NOVA), Dixon practices Monday through Friday from 4:45 to 6:45 in the morning. 

Twice a week she practices a second time during the day from 4:30 to 6:30 in the evening. 

On Saturdays, she practices from 6:00 to 8:00 in the morning. 

Additionally, Dixon does weight lifting two times a week from 6:45 to 7:45 in the evenings. 

“Without a double [practice] or weights, I swim for two hours. With a double [practice] and weights, I work out for five hours,” said Dixon. 

In order to be energized for the following full day of swim practice and school, Dixon makes sure she gets an adequate amount of sleep each night.

“I usually go to bed around nine to get enough rest to wake up early for practice and be able to get through school each day,” said Dixon. 

With most of her time out of school dedicated to swimming, Dixon has to also find time for school. 

“Balancing school and swimming is hard, but I manage,” said Dixon. “When I don’t have a double [practice] that day, I dedicate my afternoons to schoolwork and homework. When I do have a double [practice] that day, I just do my schoolwork around the practice.”

 Before Dixon earned her Olympic trial cuts, she was unaware of how close she was to qualifying for the Olympic trials. 

“I didn’t really know I was close to the Olympic trials cuts until I got them. It all happened so quick, but it was super exciting,” said Dixon. 

Finding out that she would be attending the Olympic trials was exciting to both Dixon and her teammates.

“After my races, I was super excited, but also overwhelmed. Everyone rushed over and came and hugged me,” said Dixon. 

With Olympic trials still a little under a year away, Dixon will continue training like she has all year. 

“To prepare for the Olympic trials, I’m just going to practice and work as hard as I can, knowing that every practice counts,” said Dixon. 

Dixon’s coaches, family, and friends are all supportive of her swimming, but her teammates are especially helpful in supporting her career  

“They push me every day in practice to be better and work harder. They also know that the sport gets tough sometimes and are always there for me,” said Dixon.

Although many think of swimming as an individual sport, Dixon’s love for swimming stems from her love for her team.

“I love swimming because it’s a team sport and an individual sport. You swim for yourself and your team,” said Dixon. 

Dixon’s goals for her future in swimming do not stop at the Olympic trials. 

She plans to continue to work hard and push herself in her sport to achieve more goals that she has set for herself.

“For almost every swimmer, the ideal goal is to make the Olympics, but a more realistic goal of mine would be to make the USA National Junior Team next year,” said Dixon.

Although her future is still undecided, she plans to continue training and see where it leads her. 

“I don’t know what the future holds. It could be anything really,” said Dixon. “I’m just going to keep working hard and see what happens.”

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