Minnesota, here she comes

By on March 12, 2014

Cameron qualifies for NCAA Championships

cameron2In Emily Cameron’s swimming career to this point, there was nothing more intense than competing in the Olympic Trials a couple years ago.

That changed in late February when the University of Georgia freshman got her first taste of the Southeast Conference Championships.

“It was nothing like I ever experienced,” said Cameron, a 2013 Warwick grad and seven-time PIAA State champion during her standout career with the Lady Warriors. “I was going in thinking, ‘This is going to be like States or just like any other meet I’ve been to,’ and it wasn’t at all. It was the most intense thing. To me, it was bigger than Trials. The atmosphere was just awesome.”

Cameron took advantage of that atmosphere to swim to a 12th-place finish in the 200 breaststroke B-finals in a time of 2:10.48. It was good enough to punch her ticket to her first NCAA Division-One Women’s Championship Meet, to be held next Thursday through Saturday, March 20-22 at the Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.

Although the former Lady Warriors star didn’t get an automatic bid at the time, she found out last Wednesday, March 5 that she was one of 17 Lady Bulldogs to advance.

“I had an idea (that I qualified after the SEC’s). I had to wait around for the PAC-12’s to finish for their times to come in,” said Cameron, who will also swim the 200 I.M. (1:59.01) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.00) at Nationals. “It was a relief when I found out I made it. I’m just happy.”

Cameron’s qualifying for the NCAA’s comes the same year that her good friend and former Warwick teammate Dain Bomberger advanced to the big stage with the Naval Academy.

“That’s really cool,” Cameron said. “They’re completely different places, but it’s pretty cool that we both qualified in the same year.”

Indeed. While Cameron is setting her sights on Minnesota, Bomberger is heading to the warmer climate of Austin, Texas for the NCAA Men’s Championships.
It’s just more fodder for what is a friendly rivalry between the two star athletes.

“He’s always got to be one step ahead of me. Always,” Cameron joked. “I get to go to the negative-five degree place and he gets to go to nice Austin, Texas, so lucky him.”

Going into her collegiate career at Georgia, Cameron acknowledged that qualifying for the NCAA Championships was a “huge, huge goal.” Eventually, she modified her mindset to focus just on the SEC Championships.

“That was going to be my big meet and I knew it was going to be hard. I didn’t necessarily know how hard it would be to make NCAA’s,” Cameron said. “But I realized as the year went on that it actually is going to be a tough one because every year the meet gets faster and faster. So I just had to put all my focus into my conference meet and because I did that, I was able to make Nationals.”

The SEC Championships didn’t start as well as Cameron had hoped. She placed 22nd in the 200 I.M. C-finals in 1:59.25 and then swam to a 13th-place finish in the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.00 in the B-finals of that event.

“I had a lot of nerves,” Cameron acknowledged, “so I’m very glad that I get to swim them again at the National championships. I think that as the (SEC’s) went along, I started to realize, again, that it’s just all about having fun and being part of a team. Winning the SEC was huge. Once you put the whole individual thing behind you, it’s more swimming for the team and that makes it a lot easier.”

Last month in Athens, Ga., with Cameron’s help, the Lady Bulldogs won their fifth straight team title at the Conference championships, nearly 400 points ahead of the runner-up Texas A&M Aggies. While capturing their 11th SEC title, they became only the second program in history to repeat five times.

Repeating was certainly something that Cameron did a lot of at Warwick, capturing three State golds in both the 200 I.M. and 100 breaststroke, along with one in the 50 freestyle. Making the step up to the 200 breaststroke at Georgia was only a slight adjustment for Cameron, who swam that distance periodically under coach Casey Coble with the Lancaster Aquatic Club.

“Here we do a lot more yardage,” she said, “so I’ve just gotten better with the longer distances. Just working on different things, I definitely got a lot better with the longer events.”

Cameron definitely got a lot better training-wise since arriving at Georgia as well. Mentally, she admits that it took her some time to get acclimated to the collegiate regimen, but she has settled in.

“I’m starting to pull with National champions, Olympic champions – it’s a whole different idea of training and it’s a lot harder and mentally you just have to make sure you step up and do what you have to do,” she said. “I’ve definitely gotten used to it and I love it here. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It’s been a really fun ride and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen at NCAA’s.”

Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4451.

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