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Olympic Swimming: Borgenheimer ready for long-awaited shot at U.S. Olympic Trials
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Olympic Swimming

Olympic Swimming: Borgenheimer ready for long-awaited shot at U.S. Olympic Trials

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Lily Borgenheimer has navigated a long road to get to the month of June.

The Chi-Hi graduate and Colorado Mesa University swimmer will be in action Monday in the 200-meter breaststroke at the first wave of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, as she looks to move closer to a possible bid on the United States team for this summer’s games in Tokyo.

Borgenheimer will be in preliminary action on Monday morning with the top 16 performers advancing to that night’s championship (for the top eight) and consolation (for ninth through 16th) finals. The top two finishers in the Wave I events will advance to the Wave II portion of the trials later in the month, where this year’s Olympic team will be created.

Overall, Borgenheimer is seeded 13th out of the 29 swimmers and enters with a seed time of 2 minutes, 31.91 seconds, a long course time she set all the way back in the summer of 2019 at the Speedo Champions Series in Minneapolis while representing the Chippewa Falls YMCA.

But a lot has changed for Borgenheimer since that time. In the fall of 2019, Borgenheimer had labral repair surgery on her hip and moved to Colorado and transferred from swimming at Minnesota State Mankato to Colorado Mesa, a Division II college in Grand Junction, Colorado.

“I was coming off an injury, and now I’m stronger than even before the injury,” Borgenheimer said of her recovery. “The injury is not even a factor in my life anymore, thank God.”

The initial 2020 trials were canceled last year amid the initial rise of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That gave Borgenheimer more time to train as she familiarized herself with the new surroundings and made her debut with the Mavericks last winter. Borgenheimer set five CMU records in short-course events including a time of 2:09.67 in the 200-yard breaststroke, which was more than 7½ seconds faster than any other Maverick. She earned six total CSCAA All-America honors and was a first-teamer individually in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes after taking fifth in both events at the NCAA Division II National Championships in March.

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Prior to the national championships, Borgenheimer won six events at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships and set a new championship record of 2:10.87 in the 200 breaststroke.

“I had a pretty good mindset that I was going to fit in well,” Borgenheimer said of joining a new college program. “But I pretty much did my own thing this year. I love the team, and they’re already very established as a team and a culture and I fit in really well there, but I was also able to bring new perspectives and a new level of training.”

This year’s Olympic trials are being contested in two waves due to COVID-19 protocols. Only a few swimmers will advance to the second wave later in the month to earn the opportunity to race for a place on the U.S. team.

It’s a moment Borgenheimer has been waiting on for two years.

“Right now, even in the last couple months, I’ve been able to train and improve and visually see the improvement that I’m able to make in my body and mentally as well,” Borgenheimer said. “Finally, after two years of waiting for this Olympic trials moment, I feel like I’m very prepared and it’s really amazing to swim with all these people.”

Borgenheimer is keeping her goals realistic as she awaits her turn in the pool on Monday. She’s hoping to improve on her seed time and perhaps get under the 2:30 mark. But regardless of how it goes, she excited for the opportunity and grateful to all of those who have helped her along the way.

“I’m just very grateful and happy to have had the training, all my coaches, all my teammates, all my friends and family by my side this whole time to help me get here,” Borgenheimer said.

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