Hattiesburg swimmer qualifies for Olympic trials

Hattiesburg swimmer qualifies for Olympic trials

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg swimmer, Sam Stewart, is the first person in the state to qualify for the 2016 Olympic swimming trials.

The 17-year-old flew to California to seize the first opportunity to qualify in the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys.

"Great!" said Sam Stewart.

His coach had a bit more to say.

"Right now, Sam is not only the only one in the state to qualify for the trials. He is also the only one to qualify for that junior national championship. For a lot of other people just getting to that meet would be the top of the mountain," said Corey Coon-Cassily, Sam's head swim coach.

Achieving this takes a lot of dedication inside and outside of the pool. Sam says he has to watch what he eats because unhealthy food slows him down. Sam's practice schedule proves that he wants to go far in this sport.

"I practice nine times a week, usually twice a day," said Stewart.

He still has a year and a half to try to qualify for more Olympic trials, and he only has to drop half of a second to qualify for the 200 meter backstroke. Sam says that his main focus right now is picking which college to commit to.

"He is going to do that and that takes up most of the fall; he has a lot of recruiting trips and nationally ranked schools that have been offering him scholarships," said Coon-Cassily.

Sam's coach says it's very hard to make the trials, and then to qualify for the Olympics you have to be in the top two for each stroke. They have a maximum swimming squad of 24 people.

We wish you the best of luck, Sam!