Duq swimmer qualifies for U.S. Olympic Trials

Ava Rieger| staff photographer | Haley Scholer continues to train in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Trials.

Megan Trotter | News Editor

Haley Scholer stood on the starting block preparing to compete in the 200 back finals on Aug. 7, at the Eastern Senior Zone Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.

It was the junior’s second attempt at qualifying for the USA Swimming Olympic Trials after a failed effort one week earlier.

The pressure was on.

Scholer won first place, topping a 52-swimmer event, and finished with a personal best time of 2:13.41- which qualified her for the Olympic Trails.

“When I actually qualified I looked over at my coach first. I didn’t want to look at the board. I didn’t want to see the time. I looked over at him, and I saw that he had his hands up in the air. And I was like OK, I did it,” Scholer said.

Despite qualifying by less than 18 hundredths of a second, Scholer is excited because she had been dreaming of this moment since she was 11 years old. She said she used to put it on her goal sheets at club swimming.

“I always wanted to qualify for Olympic trials. So, this is something I’ve been working toward for nine years now.”

Scholer entered college determined to meet her goal. She met with the head coach for Duquesne women’s swimming and diving team, David Sheets, and they formulated a strict plan.

“Aside from the NCAA season, we set up a training plan for her throughout the summer postseason to kind of start doing little benchmark meets along the way to gauge our progress,” Sheets said. “ For us, it was really a two-year process.”

Like her siblings Heidi and Richard Scholer, Scholer swam in high school.

She joined the swim team her sophomore year, after swimming club in years prior, where she developed a close relationship with her coaches and often referred to them as “mom and dad.” To keep up with Scholer’s talent, her high school coaches would often modify her training to make it harder.

Scholer’s college training partner, Reagan Linkous, said that despite being each other’s biggest competition they push each other and are proud of each other’s accomplishments.

“She loves to swim,” Linkous said. “She has always done incredible things and she’s done incredible things since being at Duquesne.”

Sheets hopes that younger swimmers will look up to Scholer’s team player attitude and work ethic.

“We didn’t have a butterflyer per se for our 400-medley relay. So, Haley kind of filled in and kind of filled that role in for us and was successful. So, you know, she she’s one of those kids that just works extremely hard,” he said.

“One thing that Haley does really well is that she lifts her teammates up, and she wants everybody to be better and she wants everybody to be successful.”

Just three years earlier, swimmer, Emma Brinton, qualified for the Olympic trials in the 200 IM. Sheets said he sees a similar talent and drive in both Scholer and Brinton.

“I’m very much a trust the process person. Like I trust my coach to make the right decisions and I trust them with my training plan and I’m just going to show up every day and work hard every single day,” Scholer said.

Practices leading up to the meet were lighthearted and the team focused on having fun. The day she qualified Scholer said she tried to clear her mind.

Wanting to leave nothing up to fate, she followed her preswim ritual, which consists of first by shaking out her right hand seven times, then repeats the process for her left hand and both feet.

Scholer believed that whatever was meant to happen would happen.

“Like just kind of go out there and like do what I know how to do and don’t put too much pressure on it,” she said.

Inspired by her training journey Scholer plans on pursuing a being a swim coach despite being a marketing major. Sheets has provided her with coaching books that she’s been reading to learn.
She hopes that in coming years she’ll be able to volunteer at college teams and get an assistant coaching job.

“It would be so cool to be able to coach somebody else to like, qualify for the Olympics if I can’t do it myself,” she said.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. from June 15-23, 2024.