A3 Performer Justin Wright recently returned from SC World Championships with some great insight and fresh energy for the new year. Read on to learn more about Justin's experience with the US National Team in Hangzhou, China at the SC World Championships!

Racing is one of my favorite things in the world to do. However, traveling to meets is one of my least favorites. The trip to Short Course Worlds was no exception. As soon as I got to the airport, flights were getting delayed. One missed connection turned into two and soon my 18 hour travel day had turned into almost 30 full hours of continuous travel. I was relieved to finally get to the hotel in Hangzhou and was ready to start focusing on the meet!

To adjust to the drastic time change, Team USA got to the meet almost a full week early. Most of us decided to use the downtime to explore the city and maximize the experience. The first thing we did was walk around the city of Hangzhou. We immediately noticed the strangely beautiful architecture in the city. We walked along the river and saw a building shaped like the sun, another shaped like the moon, and another shaped like people holding hands. We also noticed that every night, the city puts on beautiful light shows all over the buildings' exteriors. It was clear just from our short walk that the city of Hangzhou takes pride in its city. This became especially clear when we finally got to check out the competition pool. The pool was a circular stadium built for tennis matches but modified for a swim meet. Named the 'mini lotus,' the complex is surrounded by giant petals that make it resemble a much larger lotus flower than the name implies.

During many meets, my event, the 200 fly, comes on the first day of competition. This is both a good and bad thing for me. It’s good because I get to be done with the meet early and have more freedom to enjoy the trip to its fullest. However, it’s also bad because if I mess up on the first day, there are no do-overs and those first events set the tone for the whole team. When I finished my race, I saw my time and I knew it had a good chance to make finals. Then when the results were finalized, my name wasn’t even on the board. I had been disqualified for a one-handed touch.

When disaster struck on the first session of a meet, all I wanted to do was scream underwater. Instead, I decided to channel that negative energy into something positive. So from then on, I decided to yell in the stands for my teammates and take on the role of the head cheerleader. It was my pleasure to watch friends and teammates break American and World records in every session. It inspired me to refocus during the New Year and push harder to reach my goals.

The biggest difference between this trip and other trips I’ve been on was the stellar logistics from USAS. The staff was always available to help, there were no scheduling issues during the meet, and overall everyone was committed to making sure the athletes could perform their best. Besides the initial travel nightmare, I had absolutely nothing to complain about!

Of all the previous Team USA travel trips I’ve been on, I have never had the opportunity to have one of my personal coaches there. This time I was blessed to have one of my University of Arizona coaches, Cory Chitwood, at the meet to help make sure everything went smoothly. The only downside to having a personal coach at the meet is that after you finish your last race, they’ll be there to get you back training immediately. Only one day after I was done competing, I was back to doing doubles in the warm-up pool before sessions!

To start off the year, I’ll be participating every stop of the Pro Swim Series. After that, I’ll be headed off to South Korea in July with Team USA for World Championships!


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