Hali Flickinger's swimming talents earned her a scholarship to the University of Georgia and trips to competitions in Peru, Germany and Russia.
Flickinger's next trip won't be nearly as long. She, along with two teammates from the York YMCA Team, Brandon Flynn and Kacey Oberlander, will be in Omaha, Neb. next week competing in the U.S. Olympic trials.
Flickinger, 17, who graduated this year from Spring Grove High School, qualified in seven events. She will swim in five of them: 400 IM, 400 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 200 backstroke and 200 IM.
"Ever since I made the cut (for the trials) when I was 14, I've thought about the Olympics," Flickinger said. "The 400 IM is my strongest event. I'm seeded 16, but everyone is so
Flickinger knows making the Olympic team is a tremendous challenge, and the ultimate goal.
However, that's not her only goal.
"I definitely want to drop my time (in the 400 IM). My goal, written down, is a 38."
That would be a 4:38, six seconds better than her personal record.
"If everything is on target, I think I will be able to do it."
While Flickinger is preparing to start college, Oberlander, 14, will enter Dallastown High School in the fall.
"Hali's one of my role models," Oberlander said. "She got her first (Olympic Trials) cut at 14, and I'm 14. It's going to be a great experience going out there (to Omaha)."
Oberlander put up a personal-record time of 2:16.30 in the 200 backstroke to get under the qualifying time of 2:17.90.
"Out there in Missouri (during a meet), before I went out for my event, my teammates said, you can do it. When I got it, it was the most unbelievable feeling in the world. I was the most tired that I've ever been."
Flynn, like Flickinger, will compete in the grueling 400 IM which features four strokes, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.
"The first time that I tried it, I thought whoa, this is
"I would like to see myself do 4:24 which not too far off my PR (4:29.40)."
Flynn, 18, who graduated from Dallastown High School this year, joined the York 'Y team in his junior year after competing for his high school team in his freshman and sophomore years.
"Gerard Woody, who was a teammate of mine, swam at the 'Y, and I saw how much faster he got. That why I decided to join the Y' team. In my sophomore year at districts, I did a 5:05 in the 500 freestyle. Last spring, I did a 4:28."
All three swimmers praised their coach, Michael Brooks, for helping them take their ability to another level.
"I wouldn't be anywhere without him," Oberlander said. "I didn't
Of course, you don't achieve significant time drops without practicing -- a lot.
There are morning practices, afternoon practices and Saturday practices.
"Eating, sleeping, drinking and swimming," Flickinger said. "This program, I got so much out of it. I gave my high school life to swimming here because I wanted to be one of the best out there."
Flickinger, Oberlander and Flynn will compete as individuals in Omaha, but they'll collectively carry the banner for the York 'Y team.
"We're a very small team compared to a program like North Baltimore," Flynn said. "To be able to represent such a small team is an incredible feeling."
Reach Dick Vanolinda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-5407.