(BLOOMINGTON) - On the wall in the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center, a large banner reminds all IU swimmers and divers of the goal they dream of achieving in their lifetimes.
Jordan Littman, of IDS, reports the poster lists every IU swimmer and diver who has made it to the Summer Olympics dating back to 1952. According to that list, an IU swimmer or diver has made every Summer Olympics since that year.
That streak will continue for this year's 2012 London Olympics, as senior Margaux Farrell qualified for the 4X200 freestyle relay team at the French National Championships this past week in Dunkerque, France.
"I can't believe that I can call myself an Olympian. It is still very surreal, and I don't think it has fully hit me yet," Farrell said. "I'm really honored and proud to continue a tradition and legacy of IU swimming excellence."
Farrell's journey to the Olympics has been a balance between academics and her sport. A journalism major from Woodbridge, Conn., Farrell had to make sure her grades were strong while improving enough as a swimmer with the IU swimming and diving team to have a shot at the Olympics.
A dedicated student athlete, Farrell has achieved a 3.8 grade-point average during her time at IU and plans to attend graduate school. In addition, as a Hoosier swimmer, Farrell has been a member of two Big Ten Championship winning teams, is a 12-time NCAA All-American and set six IU record swims.
"Growing up, I reached a point where I realized that there were things I had to put aside and things I needed to give up to make time for swimming, all of this meanwhile with the long-term dream of eventually reaching the Olympics," Farrell said. "Looking back on when I was upset that I couldn't go to the homecoming dance because I had state the next day or that I couldn't go to a Sweet 16 because I was at championships or things like that, all of that to me is forgotten or made up for, in a sense."
Heading into the French National Championships and Olympic Trials, Farrell faced an obstacle she had prepared for throughout the past four years. The French Nationals were from March 18 to 24, while the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships were from March 15 to 17 in Auburn, Ala.
After earning two All-American times at the NCAA Championships in the 200-yard freestyle and the 800-yard freestyle relay, Farrell, two flights and about 4,500 miles later on March 19, arrived in Dunkerque ready for trials, where only a day later, she was competing in the 200-meter freestyle preliminaries. The prior three seasons at IU, Farrell had done the same trip so as to be ready for this one occasion.
"I was tired, sore and ready to know my fate, but my body and mind were ready for that competition," Farrell said. "I think that was why I was able to achieve what I wanted to do."
Despite much traveling, Farrell had to participate in the finals for the 200-meter freestyle on Wednesday.
After finishing in fifth in the finals with a time of 1:59.31, Farrell had to wait until Sunday afternoon before finding out she would make the Olympic team.
"Waiting during those days, I experienced a mix of emotions because I didn't want to allow myself to believe I had made the team until I officially had," Farrell said. "When I landed in Chicago for my layover coming home, I turned on my phone and received a mass amount of text messages letting me know I had made it, so it wasn't even the press release that I found out from. It was my friends and family. That made it all the more better in my eyes."
Farrell could also qualify for the 4X100 freestyle relay, as she finished fourth at the French Nationals in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 56.32. Though France currently is not qualified for the event, should the nation hold one of the world's four fastest times (from March 1, 2011, to June 1, 2012) of the teams yet to qualify for it, Farrell most likely would be selected for the team. Currently, France holds the third-fastest time of those teams yet to qualify in the event.
"Obviously, I would like to swim as much as possible at the Olympics, so being in the 4x1 would be awesome," Farrell said. "However, I'm not focusing so much on that right now. It is what it is, and at the end of the day, my goal all along was the 4x2, so I'm just honored I get at least one opportunity to swim my best event."
After years of preparation for this opportunity, Farrell has finally seized it. She will swim in the 2012 Olympics in London, and her name will be added to the prestigious banner hanging over the pool she swims in every day as a Hoosier. Margaux Farrell has sealed her name in IU history.
"It truly has not hit me that I'm an 'Olympian.' I feel weird saying it," Farrell said. "I always dreamed of this, and this was always the utmost goal of mine. However, it's the Olympics, and growing up, all little kids say they want to go, but the percentage of them that actually do is far different. I can't believe that now that's me. I'm going to the Olympics."
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