A3 Performer Justin Wright went into US Nationals with a modest goal and came out number one in the nation. In this blog post, Justin recaps his experience at Phillips 66 Nationals and at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships.
After concluding my final season of NCAA eligibility at the University of Arizona, I was faced with the same decision as every other swimmer graduating this year. I had to decide if I should join the workforce and give up my Olympic dreams or continue swimming and risk missing out on immediate job opportunities. Soon I realized that whichever I chose, I needed to commit fully. So, I took the chance on my swimming and signed with A3 Performance through 2020. Soon after, I realized it was one of the best decisions I had ever made.
Going into US Nationals, my only goal was to try and make an international meet. The thought of actually winning never even crossed my mind, but I dove in for the 200 FL with an open mind and an open heart and I laid down two of the best swims I have ever swum.
After my 200 FL at Nationals, I was told that I only had 12 days until I had to swim again in Tokyo at the Pan Pacific Championships. It was a harsh reality, but I tried my best to be prepared. I started training again the very next day in the warm-up pool in Irvine and I left for the Team USA training camp a few days later. Since it was such a short turnaround time between Nationals and Pan Pacs, most of my workouts were relatively easy so that I wouldn’t get broken down again before the meet. During the camp, I trained with the University of Texas guys and their coach Wyatt Collins. It was a lot of fun getting to know so many of my competitors. Training with Team USA didn’t even feel that different from training with my own team in Arizona.
Once we arrived in Tokyo, it was a serious struggle to adjust to everything. The weather was hot and humid, there was a 16-hour time difference, and we had a two-hour bus ride after our 10-hour flight. Despite all that, I wanted to make the most of our time in Tokyo, especially since I am half-Japanese. We explored all over Tokyo and ate as many different foods as we could: sushi, octopus, and lots of Ramen. It was tons of fun!
When it came time to swim, I felt I had prepared as best I could. I ended up not swimming as well as I wanted to, but overall Team USA came out on top in the medal count and had a great meet! The competition was fierce and for me, it wasn’t the results that I was most concerned about. It was the thrill of being able to compete against the best in the world that made this meet so special.
Now that I’m back home in Arizona, I am taking a fairly long break from swimming. It’s rare that I get a chance to vacation and rest, so it feels really good to just live life like a regular person for a while. Taking breaks is an important part of swimming because of how physically and mentally exhausting the sport can be. Soon enough, I plan on jumping right into full training for my upcoming meets. Depending on what meets I get selected for, I might be racing again by December, but regardless you can expect me to be back at my best and ready to race for the win at World Championships next summer!