By Mike Watkins//Correspondent | Friday, February 22, 2019
Emily Weiss might have been a world-class runner or softball player had swimming not taken over her life when she was an eighth-grader.
A natural athlete, she ran track and cross country and played softball for most of her childhood, all while swimming.
But then she started setting age group records in the pool and made the decision – with her parents’ guidance and support – to excel at one rather than be good at several sports.
Now a member of the 2018-19 U.S. National Team and a member of this summer’s World University Games squad, Weiss said she couldn’t be happier or more satisfied with her decision.
It became pretty clear once I hit my teens that swimming was the best sport for me,” she said. “I knew if I wanted to be great at swimming and see where it could take me, I needed to focus on it.”
Now nearing the conclusion of her senior year of high school, Weiss – who swims for the Cardinal Community Swim Club in Muncie, Ind., -- is excited for her future.
An incoming freshman this fall at her home state Indiana University, Weiss said she chose the Hoosiers not just because of proximity but because of what Coach Ray Looze continues to do to elevate the program nationally.
That and what he’s proven to do for young, determined breaststrokers like herself.
“Coach Looze has done such a great job helping Lilly (King) develop her talent into becoming an Olympic champion that I’m really looking forward to working with him and developing my own abilities,” said Weiss, who finished seventh in both sprint breast events last summer at the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships.
“It was a learning process for me – I wasn’t really aware of what was happening at Indiana – but when I visited the campus, I got to know the team and Ray and it all felt right to me.”
In certain ways, Weiss will enter the Indiana program ahead of some of her teammates and other collegiate swimmers because she’s had weightlifting as part of her dryland training since her freshman year of high school – something a lot of swimmers don’t do until their freshman year of college.
As someone who enjoys lifting and aspires to be a lifting coach in the future, Weiss said she feels like she has a great foundation to develop at Indiana – and she’s looking forward to working with Looze and his staff because of their track record with breaststrokers in particular.
“Breaststroke is one of those strokes that requires you to use all the muscles of your upper body – pecs, arms, back, etc.,” she said. “But it also involves hamstrings and pretty much every muscle. That’s why lifting has been so beneficial for me.”
Having competed at Junior Pan Pacific Championships last summer – where she won two gold medals – and 2017 Junior World Championships, Weiss said she’s looking forward to her first senior –level meet in Naples, Italy, later this summer.
And with NCAAs starting this fall and 2020 Olympic Trials next summer in Omaha, Weiss said she’s eager to gain as much big-meet experience as she can to be ready to contend for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“I know a lot can happen between now and next summer’s Olympic Trials, so I’m approaching every meet as a learning opportunity – another way to gain experience,” said Weiss, who has a twin brother, Sean, as well as an older brother.
“I also want to swim fast and have fun, but the ultimate goal is to prepare as best as I can for the future.”
In the meantime, Weiss said she’s focused on finishing her final year of high school and enjoying these last few months with her friends.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of my junior year and continuing to train to be ready for WUGs in July,” she said. “These are my last months to have fun with my friends and not be so stressed out at school.
“I want to finish the school year strong and then prepare for the rest of the summer and be ready to start college this fall.”
And while she’s ready for this significant chapter of her young life to close, Weiss said she looks back on every missed party, dance, nights out with friends, etc., as sacrifices that had to happen for her to achieve what she’s experiencing now in swimming.
“I’ve given up a lot – sports, fun with friends, etc. – to train and swim at this level, but it’s all been worth it. “It hasn’t been a bad trade off by any means. Now I am ready to embark upon the next phase of my life and see how much further I can take my swimming.”