Despite the 4 a.m. wake up calls from the sun, the travails of travel days spanning more than 26 hours and a less-than-appreciative Russian crowd, Sarah Henry keeps winning in the pool.
Henry, a Garner resident and West Johnston High graduate, won a gold medal for the United States in the World University Games earlier this month in Kazan, Russia and picked up a silver medal as well.
The Texas A&M University student, who registered four top-10 individual finishes in the NCAA Championships this spring, also finished second individually in the 200-meter individual medley with a personal best time of 2:12.69.
She was on the winning U.S. 400 freestyle relay team with Andrea Murez, Chelsea Chenault and Megan Romano. The quartet finished in 7:55.53, less than a quarter-second ahead of the Russian Federation team.
“It was a great accomplishment,” Henry said. “The Russians brought their ‘A’ world team and we were like a ‘B’ team, the top non-Olympians, taking on Olympic swimmers.
“Winning a relay medal is great because you know the best chance you have to win a medal, especially for the U.S. in the Olympics, is on a relay team.
“It really made me think about the 2016 Olympics and what might happen there if I make the team.”
The medal ceremony that followed their win was a unique experience. “It was a very different medal ceremony experience,” Henry said. “It was a very pro-Russian crowd, about two or three thousand fans. They really cheered the Russians but if U.S. swimmers won, it was very quiet. The only cheering you heard was from your teammates in the stands.”
Henry and her Texas A&M teammates who also competed in the games flew from Houston to Moscow, then were in Moscow for a nine-hour layover before flying to Kazan. She admitted jet lag and dehydration during the trip affected her early events, and getting used to the sun coming up at 4 a.m. and staying up until nearly 9:30 nightly took some getting used to as well.
The 400 individual medley was held the first day of the competition and Henry admitted she struggled in the event, despite finishing seventh (4:46.02).
It was Henry’s second international event that required nearly a full day of travel time to reach her destination. She previously competed in Australia.
She will swim in the U.S. Open Swimming Championships this week (July 30 – Aug. 3) in Irvine, Calif. Henry plans to enter five events: the 800, 400 and 200 frees and the 200 and 400 individual medleys.
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