Phoebe Bacon '20 returned to Stone Ridge for the start of the school year coming directly off the trip of a lifetime. She competed for Team USA in Fiji at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Upon return, Phoebe sat down with the Athletic Department at Stone Ridge to describe her experiences, what the trip meant to her, and what she will be able to bring back to the Stone Ridge community from the experience.
In total, Phoebe came home from the championship meet with an individual gold medal, two relay gold medals, three meet records, and achieving several personal best times throughout the meet – all while serving as one of the Team USA captains for the meet. The Stone Ridge community could not be more proud of her.
SR Athletics: You have had an amazing summer in the pool - most recently representing, captaining, and medalling for Team USA at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Fiji last week. Can you briefly explain what the process was for obtaining a spot on the USA Team?
Phoebe: In short, I made the team by my finish at the USA Swimming National Championship in early August as that was the official selection meet for several USA Team rosters... but it was actually a pretty hard process! My summer was a culmination of a lot of hard work over the last few years and included a lot of meets and all of the training throughout the summer I had to do. Going into this summer, my goal was to hopefully make the Jr. Pan Pac team. Throughout the summer, I was preparing for USA Swimming Nationals – which included a lot of early mornings in the pool, then workouts during the day, and then pool practices also at night – not much free time! Heading into Nationals, I was really nervous because the progress I had made over the last two years set me up for my first real shot to be selected for a USA Championship Team.
I was nervous! The 100 backstroke was the event that I had the best chance of placing high enough to be selected to a USA Team. The event was on the 3rd or 4th day of competition at Nationals – which was later than usual. However, I had to swim a few other events first, which built my confidence headed into the day of the 100 backstroke. In the preliminary heats in the morning, I tried not to focus on making a USA team and simply focused on trying to finish in the top 8 swimmers in the morning so that I would be swimming in the championship final at night. Based on the seeding, I would have to go a best time. During the preliminary heat, I was swimming against a former Olympian and another girl that would go on to set the world-junior record later that night – and I won the heat – in a best time! This helped to calm my nerves, but I knew that I would have another swim that night, which would be the deciding factor in selection to a USA Team.
The heat of 8 swimmers that night was comprised of two former Olympians, and I was seeded 2nd from my time in the preliminary heats. At the end of the race, I finished 4th in a time that was just off my best time from that morning. The top two finishers in the race were selected for the Pan Pacific Championship team to represent the USA in Tokyo, Japan and I was selected for the Junior Pan Pacific Championship as a top finished under the age of 18. Despite just missing the top USA team that was selected, I WAS SO EXCITED TO MAKE THE JR. PAN PAC TEAM AND ACCOMPLISH MY GOAL!
SR Athletics: Can you tell us more about the team you were selected for? How many girls were selected for the team?
Phoebe: The Jr. Pan Pac team was a team of 20 girls and 20 boys, all under 18, and then a whole bunch of coaches and other staff members. Being one of the 20 girls that went, which is a not a big group, was very cool. Since our numbers were not as big as many college, club, or high school teams, we were able to bond and become really close.
SR Athletics: What was it like to travel, compete, and be part of a team with girls from across the country?
Phoebe: I knew a bulk of the people that were selected to the USA Team from seeing them at other club team meets over the past few years in the US. I had also met a few of them at swim camps that I had been selected for in the past. There were also a lot of new faces that I was excited to meet and spend time with. Being able to be there with all these people that I am friends with and representing Team USA and our home country was a really awesome experience and a lot of fun.
SR Athletics: What was the international aspect of the competition like?
Phoebe: It was a really fun experience! You could see that Canada was there, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Fiji among a few others. The meet was open to all countries that border the Pacific Ocean. The venue had all of the flags of these countries flying, which was awesome to see. It was really fun to meet the Canadians and Australians. We hung out with them between sessions of the meet and at the meet. It was incredible to make these friendships with people all over the world that I don't think I will ever lose because of this shared experience. I am hoping we continue to see each other at meets in the future.
SR Athletics: What was most exciting part of the trip to Fiji, both in and out of the pool?
Phoebe: One of the best parts of the meet in competition was being selected to be on the mixed-medley relay, which was comprised of 2 boys and 2 girls, each doing 100 meters of one of the four different strokes. Mixed-medley relays are rarely an event a meets in the US and are mostly included as a fun and unique event in international competitions. Being able to swim with two of the fastest boys and another girl on the USA Team was such a unique experience I will never forget.
Out of swimming, we finally got to go to the beach on the last day! Being in Fiji - that is all I wanted to do! Before the trip I had looked up pictures and the beaches were so beautiful with white sand and crystal clear water. We went with the whole team and it was such a great way to end the trip.
SR Athletics: You have been fortunate to compete internationally on a few occasions. Are there any upcoming international meets that your Stone Ridge fans should mark on their calendars to follow and support you?
Phoebe: This past spring I went to Ireland to compete and I also got to go to Vancouver, Canada to compete as part of the USA Swimming National Junior Team, which I had been selected for last summer. From these experiences, I am hopeful that I will be selected for and have more opportunities to represent Team USA abroad in the future.
SR Athletics: What will you bring back to Stone Ridge from your experiences representing Team USA? Both to the school community and the swimming program.
Phoebe: I was elected as one of the team captains for the girls' team on this past trip to Fiji - it was a great honor. Being able to come back to Stone Ridge and show the underclassmen, or even the middle school and lower school girls that you can go somewhere and be a leader and act like a leader, without ever being on a trip or without ever doing something like that before or that you thought you could do. I was just myself!
This year I will be a junior on the Stone Ridge Swim team, I have learned how the season and everything goes, I am really excited to show the underclassmen how much fun it can be with all of the cheering and different meets we go to and how important it is to hang out and bond outside of just the swim practices and meets.
SR Athletics: Congratulations, Phoebe!