Caroline Wilson ’13 was not introduced to swimming in quite the romantic way one would expect: “I started swimming when I was about five and a half. I swam because my brother swam for a summer league and I wanted to do everything he did,” she said. Crushing her parents’ dreams of raising a famous dancer, Wilson became a swimmer just like her brother. That decision seems to have been a good one: Wilson just qualified for the Olympic Trials in June 2012.
Wilson and teammate Logan Todhunter ’12 “always wanted to qualify for the Olympic Trials, and when we went to Senior Nationals last summer, it didn’t work out for either of us,” Wilson said. “I had a couple of good swims, but I was definitely on the disappointed side.” Redemption was sweet earlier this month, however.
With much encouragement from Head Coach Steve Kuster, Wilson and Todhunter competed in the Eric Namesnik Michigan Grand Prix at the University of Michigan on April 8-10. “[Kuster] said he’d come and travel with us, which was definitely a huge plus,” Wilson said. “You couldn’t ask for anything more from a coach,” Todhunter added.
Kuster missed his son’s play in order to support Wilson and Todhunter. After seeing Michael Phelps around the pool, “we went to get his autograph to give to Coach, and that was okay a couple years ago, but now we are swimming against these big names and still asking for autographs,” Wilson said.
“When we got the autographs of Michael Phelps, we kept Coach on edge for a little while,” Todhunter added. “Right as we were about to give them to him, Coach was telling me, ‘Logan, I think I missed my opportunity to get Michael Phelps’ autograph. He was just sitting there on the massage table and literally not doing anything and I missed it!’ When we gave them to our coach he was so touched that we did this for him.”
Todhunter was less than 0.4 seconds away from qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 100 butterfly, and Wilson beat the cut by over 2.5 seconds in the 400 individual medley.
“There are such big names there. Michael Phelps was sitting right in front of us for the entire meet. Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Lochte were right there, and it’s just so cool,” Wilson said. “In the 200 IM, I had to swim against the world record holder.”
“Ryan Lochte touched my feet in the warm-down pool, and it made my day,” Todhunter said.
“One time in the warm-down pool I didn’t know if this girl was going to start or not or if I should dive over her,” Wilson explained. “So I look down and ask if she’s going; it’s Natalie Coughlin, and she tells me I can go. I gasped. Later on in the day, my coach says, ‘Caroline, today I looked over and you were talking to Natalie Coughlin and she was in the water looking up at you. I couldn’t have seen a better picture in my mind.’”
Amidst all of the stars of American swimming, Wilson and Todhunter had each other. “I would be done if I didn’t have Logan,” Wilson said.
“To have Caroline and the support of your teammates and coach is really important,” Todhunter added. “To watch Caroline swim and accomplish what she wanted to do – and even go faster than she expected – was very fun and I’m glad that I was able to be a part of it.”
“You always want more and when you don’t reach the goal you were hoping for it’s frustrating,” Todhunter said of her own performance at the meet.
“She was just over 0.3 off on her 100 fly and you can’t even count to 0.3,” Wilson said of her teammate. “It’s like growing out your fingernails. I was 0.1 off on my other IM because I didn’t start correctly. There was definitely room for improvement for both of us.”
Regardless of results, Wilson and Todhunter are looking forward to their next season as Ephs.
“It’s going to be my senior year and my sights are really set on making it the best year,” Todhunter said.
“School swimming always comes first,” Wilson said. “I definitely couldn’t be happier about Trials, but I’m not looking at them seriously until at least a year from now.”
The supportive duo is preparing for the next challenges that come ahead, hoping to dominate Div. III NCAAs in 2012.