CHUNKY, Miss. (WTOK) - With a name like Marina, this soon-to-be Division I swimmer was destined to have a life tied closely to the water. And Olmstead has done exactly that – she’s received a scholarship to be a part of the Alabama Swimming and Diving Program after years of hard work.
“There’s no off days, there’s no cheats, there’s no nothing – you have to do everything,” she said. “There is no ‘Oh I could let this slip or if I don’t do this as hard as I can, it will be okay because I’m sore.’ No. You’ve got to do it because that’s what the champions do.”
Olmstead began homeschooling in ninth grade in order to facilitate her training schedule, which can range from four to seven hours a day.
Since November, Olmstead has been driving to Flowood five days a week so that she can participate with the Mississippi Makos Swim Team. And when she’s not there, she’s swimming in the single lane short course competition pool in her backyard or training outside of the pool – such as lifting in a small weight facility on her family’s property. In total, Olmstead is training six days a week.
She’s coached by her father, Bryan – a former championship arm wrestler and Filipino national team gymnastics coach.
“Her warmup during taper – which is her slower swims – is 15 football fields. This is not easy stuff to do here,” he said of his daughter’s training. “She’s trying to be a top swimmer in the fastest country in the world. This is very difficult.”
Despite the time commitment of her rigorous swimming schedule, Olmstead’s academics have not fallen off; the 4.0 student scored a 32 on the ACT. Her mother, Anthia, is an MIT graduate and formerly worked as an engineer for Proctor and Gamble. She currently oversees her daughter’s homeschooling.
“There is that level of persistence that applies to schoolwork, to academics as well as to swimming as, that she has,” she said. “She’s a perfectionist all the way around.”
Olmstead’s resume includes over 30 state championships and three state records in the 100 meter backstroke. She believes her work ethic both in the pool and academically have prepared her for college.
“You know there are a lot of responsibilities in going to college,” Olmstead said. “I’m not going to have my parents there the whole time telling me, ‘You need to do your school, you need to, you know, focus on your swimming.’ I’m going to have to do that myself so I realize that and I realize that if I fail, it’s because of me and not because of anybody else and so I need to make sure I succeed.”
Olmstead signed in November 2018 to continue her academic and athletic career for the Crimson Tide.