Justin Day Set to Represent Air Force at US Olympic Trials
May 20, 2008
Justin Day, a rising senior at Air Force, has long held aspirations of competing in the Olympics. The first step to achieving that goal will come this summer when he, along with four other current and former teammates, will participate in the US Olympic Trials.
"Ever since I knew about the Olympics," said Day, "I always wanted to go to the Trials. I just kind of buried it down, because you've got to get to the next step. Finally, I got my chance to try out this year."
Day earned that opportunity back in March with a strong performance in the 100 breaststroke at the All-American Long Course Championships in Austin, Texas. Entering the meet with a specific racing strategy, Day's preliminary swim did not conform to the initial. After discussing the morning's race with Air Force head coach Rob Clayton, Day made the necessary adjustments for the night swim, shaving approximately two seconds off his time. It was more than enough to make the Olympic Trial cut and bring Day closer to realizing his dream.
While swimming competitively since the age of seven, attending the Air Force Academy has proven to be the first step for Day in reaching his goal of performing at the Olympic Trials. A native of nearby Peyton, Colo., Day already had ties to the Air Force program. Swimming for Lewis-Palmer High School in his senior year, Day was coached by former Air Force swimmer and coach Alan Arata.
As a swimmer who wanted to compete at the Division I level, as well as earn a living as a pilot, the Air Force Academy was a perfect fit for Day. In his first three seasons with the Falcons, Day has been able to build upon his strengths and become an even more successful swimmer.
"Justin had some tremendous strengths when he showed up on campus--great leaping ability, good streamlining technique," said Clayton. "He's been able to make some significant improvements in his stroke technique over the past three years to become a very competitive NCAA Division I swimmer."
Day's improvement has been evident in the past year, as he finished third in the 100 breaststroke at the 2008 Mountain West Conference Championships to earn all-conference honors. In addition, Day holds the third-fastest time in Academy history in the event and has also moved into Air Force's top 10 in the 200 breaststroke.
"[Since I've been at the Academy], I've really worked on training underwater more," said Day. "This year, I focused more on my 200 breaststroke which helped with my 100. I guess the big improvement since I've gotten here is just getting stronger."
"Last summer I had to change around my stroke," continued Day. "I was swimming too low in the water, and I've had to get up higher. Throughout this last season, I've had to train to strengthen that area, so I could actually keep it up in practice instead of just holding it together for short amounts of time."
Day's discipline and willingness to adapt--necessities at a rigorous institution such as the Air Force Academy--have not gone unnoticed and are certainly factors in his ability to perform at the highest level.
"Justin has grown a lot in his training commitment since his freshman season," said Clayton. "He is consistently showing up to do extra work to improve his starting technique, his turning technique and his stroke technique. He is now not afraid to push past the pain barrier in training to become a faster swimmer."
The efforts Day has put forth in the past three years at the Academy will be measured in the next 12 months, as he embarks upon his senior campaign for the Falcons. Day has set many goals for himself, striving to capture his first conference title and a school record in the 100 breaststroke. He would also like to see the Falcons' 400 medley relay record go down, as he and his teammates are within striking distance of that goal.
However, before his senior season kicks off, Day will have the opportunity to gauge his talents against some of the best swimmers in the world, when he heads to the Olympic Trials this summer. There he will see just how much his hard work has paid off and what the next year may have in store.
For more information on the US Olympic Trials, which will take place June 29-July 6 in Omaha, Neb., visit www.usaswimming.org.