O'Brien makes golden return from injury
It's been almost four months now since Taylor O'Brien captured the gold medal for the 500 meter freestyle at the PIAA Swimming Championships at Bucknell University. In that time, she's officially graduated from Emmaus High School, gone through orientation at her next schooln - the University of Indiana - and is getting in those "last time before we all start school again" outings with friends.
Just getting back from her orientation, O'Brien got to spend time with her college teammates and coaches and performed what may be her most important duty.
"My roommate and I were planning our dorm room. You know, we're girls, so everything has to match," reported O'Brien.
One thing that won't be making the trip to Indiana is her gold medal, which will stay securely perched above her parents' fireplace.
"I just don't trust myself taking that along. It's really special and it just belongs there at my parents' house," said O'Brien.
Even though she had great success throughout high school and came back from a serious back injury to win gold at the state level, O'Brien was genuinely surprised that she was selected as the East Penn Press Female Athlete of the Year.
"Wow, that's a great honor," said O'Brien. "I'm so glad that you chose me out of all of the choices."
That humility and her spirit to achieve are key aspects that have brought her back from the injury, which is now just a memory for her, since the back injury isn't giving her any problems.
"August 1st, it will be a year since I came out of the surgery and I definitely made the right choice, because I feel great," said O'Brien.
Prior to her injury, it was thought that O'Brien would be competing in the Olympic Trials, held recently in Omaha. O'Brien was a 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier in the 400 and 800 freestyle events prior to suffering the injury in an open water event as a member of the USA Junior National Open Water Team. While she wasn't competing, she was an avid follower of the event and was excited to see some of her friends do well at the competition.
Besides fitting in hanging out with her friends before they all go their separate ways and off to various colleges, O'Brien continues to train and will compete in Nationals the first week of August. While the injury set her back, she is looking forward to getting back to competing again.
"What I'm really looking forward to is just getting a routine back. I'm not going to be as worried about my times as I am just getting back to the competition and back to working on everything," said O'Brien.
For now, she is training for the event and is excited about everything that's ahead of her in the next few months.
When she won the gold medal, O'Brien called it "the perfect way to end my high school career." There's a lot ahead of her both academically and athletically and she could find herself with many more big victories and honors down the road.
"It is exciting when I think about Nationals and then going to Indiana and competing there. Spending time with my new teammates at the orientation was a lot of fun and it really has me looking forward to the future," said O'Brien.