Haley finishes stellar swim career at LSU
To Sara Haley, it seems like only yesterday she was a member of the El Dorado Hills Taz Swim Team, racing against other 6 year olds.
Oh, how time flies.
Haley, now 21, recently completed her stellar swim career at Louisiana State University, and will be graduating in August with a degree in sports administration.
“I had the best and quickest four years of my life at LSU,” Haley said. “I wouldn’t change anything. I loved everything about it and now it’s gone. It’s over. I can’t believe how fast it went, but it was an experience of a lifetime. I had an amazing team and amazing coaches at an amazing school.”
Following a standout career at Oak Ridge High, ending with her graduation in 2009, Haley received a full scholarship to swim at LSU. Four years later, Haley has the school record in the 200-yard butterfly of 1 minute, 56.67 seconds. She’s also swam on two school record-setting relay teams, the 800-yard freestyle, 7:12.73 and the 400-yard medley, 3:37.29. Her time of 53.17 in the 100-yard butterfly is third-fastest in LSU history, while her 500-yard freestyle time of 4:51.23 ranks her sixth-fastest.
Haley also has a pair of bronze medals in the 200-yard butterfly from the 2011 and 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships.
Outside of LSU, Haley is also a two-time U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in 2008 and again in 2012.
Even with all of her records and top performances, none qualify as her proudest accomplishment.
“I’m most proud of the fact that I made it four years swimming at a Division I school,” Haley said. “For four years, I was racing against the fastest swimmers in the country. I trained year round, stayed hungry, kept my grades up and managed to have a small, low-key social life. I’m proud that I was able to represent LSU too; what a cool school to go to.”
LSU swim coach Dave Geyer said is proud of Haley’s swimming accomplishments with the Tigers.
“Sara had a very solid career,” Geyer said. “I know that all athletes are competitive, but that was her strongest attribute in training and in meets. She was a racer. You could put her in any event at a meet and she would go for the victory.”
Haley is a two-time NCAA qualifier in the 200-butterfly, but unfortunately, failed to qualify in her senior year. While Haley was disappointed to not qualify, she learned from the experience. In fact, she’s learned a valuable lesson from her entire swim career, which spans more than 15 years.
“Swimming has taught me about goal setting,” Haley said. “I always wanted to swim in college and make it to the Olympics. If you set a goal and really want to achieve it, you have to put your heart and soul into it. You can’t be lukewarm about it. When I got up every morning, I worked toward my goal and did whatever I thought would help me achieve it. Everything I did, I did with my goal in mind. I had an amazing senior year and I was disappointed that I didn’t make it to the NCAAs, but I realized that I’m not always going to swim my best every day.”
This summer, Haley plans to intern in the sports administration department at Southern University in Louisiana and hopes to one day work for the NFL.