Imelda Wistey uses Olympic Trials as fuel for ISU swim season


Photo: Heran Guan/Iowa State Daily

Junior Imelda Wistey talks to the Daily during her interview Monday, Oct. 15, at Beyer Hall. Imelda went to the Olympic Trials last year. 

Kristin Peterson

The crowds, the fans and the excitement all came to life for one ISU athlete as she had the chance to compete at the Olympic Trials.

Imelda Wistey, a junior on the ISU swimming team, had Olympic dreams and competed her way to Omaha, Neb., for trials in the 100-meter breaststroke this past summer. She was excited to go up against the best of the best in the nation and to get a chance to compete at that level.

“I had that opportunity just by getting the time, being in the atmosphere, being in that pool and seeing all the great swimmers,” Wistey said. “It made me feel great in a way and I felt honored just to be a part of it.”

Wistey did not get the chance to go to London, but the experience only added to her dream.

“[The Olympic Trails] increased my motivation more that anything else,” Wistey said. “I was motivated before going to trails, but now I am looking at the next four years.”

At the age of 19, Wistey knows that when the next Olympics comes around, she will still be well within the average age of an Olympian at 23. She said she gets stronger and faster every day.

“I haven’t peaked yet,” Wistey said. “I think I can make something out of my swimming.”

The Olympic dreamer is not ready to say goodbye to her Olympic dreams and plans to keep pushing through the fresh season at Iowa State and toward her future aspirations as a swimmer.

This season will help Wistey prepare more and the coaches are working to improve her technique and help her achieve her goals.

“I think all coaches strive to achieve that level and see their athletes achieve that,” said ISU coach Duane Sorenson. “But it’s just fun to see her; she has been working so hard and really has dedicated herself to become that level of an athlete.”

Sorenson said they are focusing on perfecting the technical elements of her breaststroke, for which she competed in the trials.

“It’s fun to see her finally achieve a dream she has had since she first started swimming,” Sorenson said. “Like all athletes in any sport, you know, they say, ‘I want to go to the Olympics,’ and so you have to get the first step of getting the qualifying time and then swim at the meet — the qualifying Olympic Trials.”

Assistant coach Kelly Nordell, who has known Wistey since she was 11 or 12, praised Wistey for her for open-mindedness and enthusiasm when working to improve all her strokes.

“To see her grow into it and work for it and then achieve her goal has been rewarding to me as a coach as well,” Nordell said. 

American silver medalist Rebecca Soni was among the competitors at the trials who Wistey got to compete against. Going up against such a high level of competition inspired Wistey to push harder in practice, which has helped her relax in meets.

“Because I have come from such a competition, I don’t put so much pressure on myself anymore,” Wistey said. “There’s still pressure, but Olympics Trials gave me perspective to see that every single meet is just a little bit of something extra to go that much further in my sport.”

Wistey is thrilled to be competing again for the ISU swim team and has only used her Olympic attempt as fuel to compete harder and better for the team this year.

“I have a newfound confidence in myself and how I train and how I compete and my team,” Wistey said. “So it was huge, not only as one of the goals to knock off my list, but also as an accomplishment for myself.”