Trains alone but still competes
For some U.S. swimmers, the high point of an Olympic experience is making the Olympic team, not swimming in the Olympics. In the 196Os, when the United States dominated international swimming, an Olympic Trials final was often more competitive than the actual Olympic final. At the age of 16, Susan Roy finished first in the prelims of the 1964 Olympic Trials in the 100-meter breaststroke. A case of the nerves prevented Roy from making the team, and she dropped out of swimming until two years later.
She earned a ticket to the 1968 Mexico City Games with a third-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke. To prepare the squad for Mexico City's high altitude, the coaches trained the U.S. Olympic team for one month in Colorado, where Roy fell sick. "I would have been better off staying home," she says.
Competing near the end of the Olympic games after a three-week stay in Mexico City, Roy never made it out of the preliminary heats in the 100 breast, and cites her illness and nervousness as reason for her sub-par performance. In hindsight, though, Roy remembers the positive side of the experience.
"It is extremely rewarding to participate in the Olympics,” says Roy. “Actually, when I think of the total Olympic experience, I recall all the training and discipline that went into my years of swimming. At the Olympics, there is so much stimulation that it's hard to put the event in perspective."
Roy appears on the Masters competitive scene about once every five years, although she trains alone three to five times per week. At the 1994 USMS Short Course Nationals in Tempe, Ariz., Roy won the 50, 100 and 200 breaststrokes and the 100 IM in national record times for women 45-49. Susan J. Roy lives in Mountain View, Calif., and swims for Los Altos Masters.
Originally published in SWIM magazine, May-June 1996.