Woodbury Girl at Olympic Trials: ‘Something I Will Never Forget’

Patch catches up with 15-year-old Mickayla Hinkle, who recently took on the nation’s best in swimming for a shot at the London Games.

Last month, Patch profiled young Woodbury swimmer Mickayla Hinkle, who qualified for the Olympic trials in two backstroke events.


She recently returned home from the races in Nebraska, and Patch asked 15-year-old Mickayla about her experiences.

Patch: How did your two events go? 

Mickayla: My coach and I were happy with both of my races; they were my best times for swimming in the preliminary races. I basically placed , as far as my ranking. 

Patch: What was the experience like for you?

Mickayla: Overall, the experience was amazing and something that I will never forget. The staff and volunteers at the Century Link Center were very organized and made sure all of the athletes’ needs were met. They all made the swimmers feel special! I was a little star struck seeing so many great swimmers (past and present Olympians, NCAA champions, and lots of world-class athletes). Most of the athletes are very approachable and friendly. 

Patch: Any interesting stories you can relay?

Mickayla: On one night, I went to watch the finals with my coach (Olga Splichalova Espinosa) and all of the athletes and coaches were seated in one section of the stadium. It was very crowded but we were able to find some seats.  

The man sitting next to me was writing down the splits and times of the swimmers on his program and he seemed to be very knowledgeable and chatty. 

I happen to glanced down at his credential and see that I was sitting next to Ryan Lochte's dad (Steve Lochte). He told me that he coached Ryan through high school and you could tell that he was a very proud parent. (Editor’s note: Ryan Lochte is a six-time Olympic medalist.)

He was very friendly and told me that Ryan was going to wear his famous green shoes to finals that night... and Ryan did. He also gave me some encouragement.

Patch: What was the Olympic atmosphere like?

Mickayla: There was a lot of emotion displayed by the top swimmers, especially during the finals. Some of the top athletes made the team and some came very close. The anticipation and emotional atmosphere really amped up the adrenaline in everyone.

The nighttime show was really cool, the colorful display on a two-story waterfall drop background and the shooting flames were all really fun to watch and create a very exciting show.

Patch: What's next for you? 

Mickayla: My end of season meet will be Junior Nationals meet in Indianapolis mid-August. I will be swimming both 100 and 200 back again along with a couple of other events.

Patch: Anything else you'd like to add?

Mickayla: I'm really thankful for the coaching staff at St. Croix Swim Club. Olga was terrific at the trials. She helped me to prepare for the races and introduced me to other coaches and athletes she knew at the event.  

I am also appreciative of my friends and family. They gave me a very nice send-off to the trials and their supportive messages were motivating while I was in Omaha.

My parents' seats were really far from the competition pool, so they weren't able to take any decent action shots. Olga did take this picture of me on Tuesday practicing in the competition pool before I got ready for my actual race that morning. I had to use the Jumbotron to help guide me during my backstroke events.


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