JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Her smile? Contagious. Her GPA? Quite good--a 4.17 at Bishop Kenny. Her dream? Something more than 99% of the world can do.
Lydia Ware's dream is to make the Olympic team. She's a swimmer and this last weekend of March 2012, she's in Montreal, Canada trying to make the Canadian Olympic team.
If she qualifies, she'll compete this summer in London at the Olympics.
Her best events are the 100 free (freestyle), which she'll swim Saturday, and the 50 free, her race on Sunday.
How fast does she need to swim? Her coach, Craig Teeters, thinks if she can swim the 50 free in 25.5 seconds or less she has a great shot to make the team.
Teeters, whose resume includes coaching at Bolles and coaching Olympian gold medal winners, says Lydia needs the "perfect" swim. That's not meant to seem impossible. He says other young people have hit their best at just the right times to make Olympic teams.
Lydia's mother and Coach Teeters are with her in Montreal. Her father, Chip, had to stay in Jacksonville, but he's in constant touch with Lydia's progress.
So why Canada? Lydia was born there and she has dual citizenship. Her coach says the Canadian team is a bit easier to make than the U.S. swim team for the Olympics.
No one is saying it's easy, of course, but at age 16, Lydia could use the extra advantage.
Her mother says no matter what, Lydia can try again in four years and, besides that, everyone is just so proud of her.
Lydia says the night before a big race, she "visualizes."
"I just lay on my bed without my pillow and I think through my race start to finish," she says. Why no pillow? Her coach wants her spine to stay straight and her body to feel as if it's in the pool.
Lydia says the students and teachers at Bishop Kenny have been supportive and so have her swimming friends at the YMCA in Ponte Vedra, where she trains.
Lydia's father says his daughter is "very focused."
No doubt the big focus of her life right now -- after thousands of sit-ups and thousands of hours of practice -- is swimming her best in Montreal.
First Coast News