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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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Senior set to swim in Canadian Olympic Trials

When Alex Miao slammed into the wall after taking his final stroke of the 200-meter freestyle during his NCSA meet, the only thing he could hear was the cheers and shouts coming from the bleachers at the University of Indiana Natatorium.

“It was a great race. I was an entire body length ahead,” Miao said. “My coaches went crazy, and it was a feeling I want to replicate every time I swim.”

The senior improved his personal best by 2.5 seconds and advanced from fourth to first place with a time of 1:50.80 and inching him closer to an Olympic Trials qualifying time, 1:49.99.

At the level Miao swims at, hundredths of a second matter. That race qualified him to enter the Canadian Olympic Trials, May 13-17 in Toronto. The Canadian Olympic Trials are a series of competitive events held to determine which athletes will represent Canada at the Olympic Games. In these trials, only the Top 6 athletes are able to move on.

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Miao intends to compete for possible inclusion in the 100- and 200-meter butterfly and the 100, 200 and 400 freestyle. He is seeded second in the 18 and under in his best event, the 200 free. Miao is currently seeded 10th overall and placing sixth would qualify him to join Team Canada for the 2024 Paris Olympics beginning July 26.

Should Miao fall short of qualifying for the American or Canadian Olympic teams, he may still compete in the junior division of the Australia Pan Pacific Swimming Championship in late August, which invites top competitors from the Pacific Island countries, China, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada. Miao’s dual citizenship in Canada and the US means he can choose which country to represent.

“I could make the Pan Pac team for America, but it would be a fight to get into the Top 6 for American Trials. It isn’t out of the question, but it’d be a fight,” Miao said. “But in Canada, it’s pretty much a certainty, so that is why I am swimming for Canada.”

To qualify for the junior American Pan Pac team, Miao must have the six fastest times out of those who are 18 and under.
Even if Miao does not move on to the Olympic Games, reaching the Trials meet is already an impressive feat.

“For swimming, achieving the Trial standard for any country is special,” head coach Jason Wedlick said. “Having seen Alex develop and experience these high level meets, I am very proud and excited for him.”

Next fall, Miao will swim at Cornell University, but he could have never imagined where swimming would take him, especially since he started relatively late.

“I started swimming in second grade,” Miao said. “Even though it might seem young, that was late compared to my other teammates who had been swimming since kindergarten.”

Despite his later start, Miao has been able to achieve his “success” through his work and drive, both in and out of the water.

“Whenever I swim, I always focus on the small things I can do to improve,” Miao said. “Those are the things that help me drop easy time.”

From doing three kicks off of each wall to not breathing on the first stroke, Miao makes marginal adjustments every day to slowly perfect his technique. Eventually, these small changes accumulate to the swimmer he is today.

“I try not to focus on the pain and bad things,” Miao said. “I treat everything lightheartedly that way it takes the pressure off of me.”

Wedlick, who has seen what Miao is capable of, is excited to see what Miao will accomplish in the future.

“Ultimately I feel like Alex is prepared for the road ahead and this is a testament to him, his parents and club coaches,” Wedlick said. “Alex is ready for whatever comes his way the next four years.”

This story was originally published on The Review on May 8, 2024.