Sports

Aug 6, 2012 2:00 AM

Grevers, Leverenz inspire next generation of Olympic hopefuls

Several Tucson swimmers are making a big splash at the London games. Matt Grevers, Caitlin Leverenz and former Wildcat Nick Thoman, just to name a few. Here at home their success is inspiring the next generation of Olympic hopefuls.

It is another grueling day in and out of the pool at Hillenbrand Aquatic Centre.

"It's going to hurt but you're only getting better," said swimmer Trey Cashion.

"If I push through the pain, that pain that I get later on in my races, it won't be as severe," said 15-year-old Matt Lujan.

Many of the Ford Aquatic swimmers practice eight times a week, sometimes twice a day, for more than two hours.

"You don't really have time for anything else, you have to be devoted to swimming and that's it," Lujan said.

Head coach Johno Fergusson says earning a spot on the Olympic team can take decades of sacrifice and dedication.

"It's all about writing your dream and going along with it," Fergusson said. "You're never going to know what's going to happen."

The Rio games are four years away and that has Tucson's next wave of Olympic hopefuls hitting the pool hard. Lujan is mastering the 100 backstroke.

"Slowly chip away time and then get all the way, after junior nationals, get your national time, and then nationals to your Olympic trial time," he said.

Meantime 15-year-old Trey Cashion already ranks fifth in the U.S. for the 100 freestyle.

"He kicks like no other teenager I've ever seen in my life," said Fergusson.

Then there is 14-year-old Natalie Ward, a distance swimmer, whose dropped 37 seconds off her time in the mile.

"Every little thing you do in practice is going to make or break that," Ward said.

Big talents with even bigger dreams, skilled swimmers hoping to shine on the international stage.

It is hard not to think about getting to the Olympics, especially with the London games underway. However the swimmers we spoke with say they focus more on short-term goals, taking it one swim meet, even one practice lap at a time.

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