Senior student-athlete Hailey Campbell will represent BYU for the second time at the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships where the University of Minnesota, Twin Lakes will host the meet in her hometown in Minneapolis.
“This is the perfect way to end my college career,” Campbell said. “This means everything to me, taking it back to where it all started. My first meets were in that pool. My family and friends are so excited that they will be able to watch me end my career.”
With a time of 53.20 in the 100-yard backstroke, Campbell’s conference time qualified her for NCAAs. She has also been invited to swim in the 200 back (1:57.25) because of her qualifying time.
“I hope she does better because she’s a fierce competitor and she’s been there before so she’s got some experience,” BYU head coach John Brooks said. “I’m just so happy for her not only to go to NCAAs but to return home and finish her college career in her hometown. Hopefully she gets a good crowd to come cheer her on.”
Campbell had immediate success as a Cougar. This year she will make her second appearance at the NCAA Championships. In her first year after transferring from Penn State, she qualified for the 2012 NCAAs in the 200 back.
“This year I’m going to try not to psych myself out right before the meet begins,” Campbell said. “It was my most memorable career experience being there, but I didn’t know what to expect. I feel much more prepared now that I’ve had that experience.”
The fast pace and high level of competition can become daunting for any athlete; however, Brooks believes her seniority and drive should help her in this year’s meet.
In her 2012 appearance, Campbell practiced alone, without the help of her teammates before the championships. This year, Campbell feels more confident training for this year’s event than the previous with the help of her teammates. Not to mention she just secured her reigning title as three-time 100 and 200 back champion of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
“In practice right now she’s trying to improve the little things like tempo and underwater turns, “ Brooks said. “It's things like that that will help her become better in a championship meet.”
Making it to this year’s championships was not only important because it’s her senior year but because the 2014 NCAAs are held in Minnesota at the same venue she grew up swimming in.
“Any time that I would start to get down on myself or lose some confidence, John or Shari (BYU head and assistant coaches) would come up to me and say ‘Minnesota’,” Campbell said.
Just hearing her home state ensured that she kept her spirits up and worked harder than ever to get to national championships. Campbell believes this year she has given the most effort and most dedication. After a slow 2012-2013 season, she came back with more passion than ever before.
Even though the NCAAs will be the end for her, she will return to BYU for one more year to finish her coursework and earn her degree in exercise and wellness. Campbell has also already signed on with the BYU coaching staff as an assistant coach for the 2014-2015 season.
“My teammates are so excited I’ll be coaching. They say, ‘Hailey you can teach us how to swim fast!’” Campbell said. “I have thought about coaching before but wasn’t sure if I could do it or not. I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist, but now I’ve started thinking about coaching.”
The championships begin Thursday, March 20, at the Minnesota Aquatic Center. Campbell will begin competing Friday in the 100 back trials beginning at 11 a.m. Finals will be held later that night at 7. She will also swim on Saturday (same trials and finals format) with the 200 back event.
ESPN3 will cover the final sessions on Friday and Saturday. Thursday’s sessions and Friday and Saturday morning sessions will be streamed live via the Gophers athletic webiste. Live results are also available beginning March 20 via the NCAA website.