June 06, 2012 - By Chris Ehrmann
Annie Jongekrig stands between her two parents, from left, Terri and Johan. Photo by C. Ehrmann (click for larger version)
Annie Jongekrig holds seven Lake Orion high school records and is the Division 1 champion for swimming in Michigan.
Now she can add qualifying to swim at the Olympic trials to that list, when she travels to Omaha, Neb. for a once in a lifetime chance at swimming at the 2012 London Olympics.
Jongekrig was not always a swimmer though. Before she took to the water she played soccer but did not perform well enough to make the high school soccer team. Despite this, a physical education teacher noticed her talent for swimming and asked her try out for the high school swim team.
Jongekrig did and eventually became a member of the swim team. From there she moved on to varsity swimming and and swimming for Liquid Lightning (LL) - a Michigan-based swim organization.
"Liquid Lightning is a 12 month operation; high school swimming is usually three months a year, while Lightning is the other nine months," LL Coach Tom Arusoo said.
"Our club has developed over the years - we started off in 50th or 60th place in the state, but now we have moved up to third."
Jongekrig's qualification for the trials marks the first time someone has qualified for an Olympic trial meet. Arusoo said that he was excited but this is where the best of the best come to compete for a shot at the Olympics.
"I am very excited for her, but the Olympic trials are where they have to put it all on the line," said Arusoo.
Jongekrig qualified for the Olympic tryouts by attending a meet in North Carolina, where she performed at a time trial for the 50 meter freestyle. From there she will attend the trials in Omaha. The trials are a weeklong event, from June 25 through July 2. Jongekrig will swim on July 1, participating with 200 other swimmers.
The top 16 will come back for finals to swim again.
"The people at this meet will compete and the top two people from each event will go on to the Olympics," said Jongekrig.
When asked how she felt about going to the Olympic trials she said that she was nervous but also excited.
"I'm a little nervous but I'm more excited to be at that meet to see everybody there, because it is a high level meet," she said.
Despite her nerves, she has had plenty to practice and has been to many meets across the country like in California, Minnesota, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana.
"I usually have nine practices a week," said Jongekrig. "three morning swims from 5:30 to seven and then for five days after school I usually have two hour practices and on Saturdays. I also do weights three days a week on top of everything and that is a usual week. We swim about 6,000 to 7,000 yards at practice, which is about three or four miles. I am usually practicing 20 hours a week."
Jongekrig thanked everybody that has helped and supported her. Her parents are also extremely proud of what she has accomplished.
"I am proud of her talent in swimming; proud of her commitment, dedication and her perseverance to practice four to five hours a day, every day," said Terri Jongekrig, Annie's mother. "To realize it is a dream but it is something she has worked really hard to get to."