The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


Ella J. Olympic Trials

Lia S. ’25
Ella J. ’25 is also a member of the Lakeside Girls Swim & Dive team.

The Olympics are the world’s premiere when it comes to sports events. Among the rigorous challenges Olympians face, qualifying is one of the last “trials.” Since Lakeside’s the cream of the crop of the Pacific Northwest, it should come as no surprise that there is a to-be Olympic Trialist walking amidst us who has surpassed every barrier up until this one — Ella J. ’25. 

The 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for swimming is a highly competitive swim meet held from June 15 to 23 in Indianapolis — chosen because it was the same location where the Paris Olympics members were selected exactly one century ago. Swimmers who place top two in each event are selected to compete at the Olympics. In order to qualify for the meet, swimmers must swim under a “cut time” for an event at certain meets during a specific time window. Then, they receive a “ticket” in the form of an email invitation stating they qualified in that event. Since there is no cap to the amount of swimmers who can qualify, roughly 700 people are expected to go to the Trials this year, including Ella who qualified with a time of 59.46 seconds in the 100 meters butterfly event, under the cut time of 1:01.9 minutes.

“[Qualifying] was an honestly lower pressure situation; I wasn’t expecting it. But I was just having that super like calm mentality going into it [which] sort of lets you do what you know you can do,” says Ella. 

For her, attending the Trials has “always been a goal in the back of my head” ever since she started swimming at age seven. “When I was younger I was thinking ‘oh my gosh, could I someday go to this meet?’”

But one challenge arose immediately: Ella remarks that “I was under the qualifying time around my freshman year,” and she didn’t get many chances a year because of the time window restriction. To make matters worse, she had always practiced and raced short course yards — 25 yard long pools — compared to long course 50 meter long pools, the international standard and qualifiable pool size.

“From that point on it was very difficult, because for a while, I wasn’t able to keep the time I swam. I would be one second off my time and not under the cut, so for like the past year-and-a-half it’s been [a] fight to get it back down to where it was.”

Ella has been swimming with the Seattle Metropolitan Aquatic Club (SMAC) for about a decade now. At Lakeside, she also swims with the Lakeside Girls Swim & Dive team in the fall.

Ella notes that at such a competitive level of swimming, “I won’t say it’s always easy. But you have to love it if you’re gonna do it at this level.”

She finds the structure of competitive swimming quite enjoyable, as well as “the grind behind all of it.” Mondays are her “double” days, where there is a morning water practice from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. and in the afternoons, 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, she swims from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., then lifts for another hour after a 30 minute break. Wednesday is the usual two hour swim practice; Thursday is another lifting day, and Friday is yet again, a double. Lastly, Saturday, the “big day,” brings swimming from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and lifting from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

But despite the daily arduous efforts, there are also “little traditions that’ll get us through,” Ella says. 

“We’ll all go get breakfast together before we go lift, so stuff like that keeps it enjoyable […] You can look forward to the practice knowing that you’re gonna get to laugh with your closest friends”

Her most treasured memory comes from a relay in Sacramento. They were head-to-head with their biggest rival: Bellevue Club. However, they pulled away and scored a victory by less than a tenth of a second. 

“I just remember getting out of the pool and our entire team is on the side of the pool screaming, and especially since we had seniors [for whom] this was their last relay, getting to have that moment of ‘the entire team is watching’ and being so excited for each other. That was super special.”

Ella’s favorite motto? “Do it for the team,” she says. “[Swimming is] not just a selfish thing. I want to be a good representative of Lakeside and SMAC. And it’s also something that, even if you’re getting a personal achievement, it still reflects on the club, so doing it for something greater than yourself is super important to me.”

One of her biggest supporters that she wants to shout out are the upperclassmen on her team. They were leaders to her, and she is looking forward to contributing to the team when she becomes a senior. 

“My proudest moments are when people tell you that you’re a good teammate or that you’re a good person, because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re going to be remembered for.”

Ella plans to continue swimming in college with Stanford University. She notes that “I don’t really know what my plans are, but I definitely want to keep swimming as a super important part of my life.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Timothy D. '27
COMMON NAME: Tim/Timothy/Timmy SCIENTIFIC NAME: Timothy Dong TYPE: Extrovert PERSONALITY: Energetic, Charismatic, Imaginative DIET: Anything goes, loves Turkish pastries AVERAGE ATTENTION SPAN: ~5 minutes HABITAT: Can be found all around the school talking with friends or working on homework, most common in the library wasting time HOBBIES: Plays modded Minecraft in free time, or goes hiking out in the Cascades

Comments (0)

All Tatler Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *