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Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Fleagle set to compete against top swimmers

By Gary R. Rasberry
It has been over a year since Josh Fleagle qualified for the United States Olympic Swimming Trials.
Next week he will finally get a chance to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic swimming team.
The St. Marys native, who already established himself as a dominant swimmer through YMCA swimming, will head to Omaha, Neb., to take part in the trials beginning on Monday.
Fleagle, who bettered the qualifying standard time in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events, will swim on June 28 and 30.
While Fleagle has remained dominant swimming for the Auglaize-Mercer County Family YMCA Waves' program, the focus for the trials has been more than just the physical work.
"I guess knowing the trials were coming up, one thing I focused on this year was making sure I was mentally strong and able to mentally focus," said Fleagle in a telephone interview from Columbus, where he will attend Ohio State and swim for the Buckeyes. "I felt a lot (that) in 2010 and 2011 when I was at nationals, I felt I had a chance to win a couple events several times, but a lot of times my mental strength wasn't there. I felt a lot of what was going on around me influenced what I was doing.
"After 2011, my coach and I decided to change my workouts a bit. Maybe do a couple extra hours of practice, but make sure it counted. We focused on making sure to be able to mentally prepare for an event and I had my head on straight and not get overwhelmed."
One thing that Fleagle noticed as one of 176 qualifiers in the 100 free and one of 179 in the 50 free is that only a few are in his age bracket (18), as most are older.
The fact that Fleagle is young gives him an opportunity, not only this year in the 2012 Summer Olympics, but also in the following Summer Olympics which will be played in 2016.
"When I look at those times (of the fellow qualifiers), I make sure I look at the ages (of the swimmers)," said Fleagle. "I have found that close to only 100 high school-age swimmers are at the trials (through all events). For me seeing that, it gives me a goal for 2016. In college, I can start professional training. That will give me that extra focus that I know when 2016 rolls around, I'll be better prepared.
"For me, coming to the meet is something I've wanted to do. It's one step closer to my goal, which is to go to the Olympics and hopefully medal. This is just one step closer for me. Coming in, I'm just excited. Not too worried about other guys. They have to do what they need to do and I have to do what I need to do, and that's have a good race."
Following the Olympic Trials, Fleagle will look to improve even more with the Buckeyes, who have 28 former, current or incoming male swimmers competing at next week's Olympic Trials.
"After the Trials, I feel it's going to be a weight lifted off my shoulders," said Fleagle. "I know that I will go from a little kid competing against more experienced swimmers, to starting college and getting into quality sets and workouts to begin the next level where I'll actually be a formidable opponent and be able to go against those in the Big Ten and NCAA. I will be able to go through my college career swimming against the next generation of Olympians. That will get me that extra push, after the Trials, (to) looking forward to that competition."
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