The bigger the moment, the better Brenna Olander performs.
The Myers Elementary fourth-grade student took her talents to Des Moines, Iowa, last weekend and competed in the Junior Olympics.
Brenna swam the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:25.05 to bring home the gold medal. Her time was three seconds faster than her previous personal best in the event.
On top of the first-place finish in the 100-meter backstroke, Brenna took second place in the 50-meter backstroke, seventh in the 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter individual medley, eighth in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter breaststroke and 10th in the 50-meter butterfly and 50-meter breaststroke.
The standout swimmer finished with 97 points in the 10-and-under age division.
She said she had a good experience at the Junior Olympics.
“My overall experience at the Junior Olympics was that it was the best meet of my long course season,” Brenna said. “It was fun to travel somewhere that I have never competed before. The pool was amazing to swim in. I always like getting to stay in a hotel, too.”
Brenna highlighted some of her favorite moments of the trip.
“Getting to meet athletes from all over the country, including New York, Boston, Florida, California to name a few,” she said. “I even got to watch one boy swim who was from South Africa. I can’t wait to see my new friends again next year. Dropping three seconds in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:25.05 and getting the gold medal, getting my best time in the 50-meter backstroke (40.18 seconds) and taking second place and getting my best time in the 50-meter freestyle (36.11) and getting on the podium were highlights for me.”
Not only did Brenna perform well at the Junior Olympics, she said she learned a lot about herself.
“I learned that I could go all out in my 100-meter backstroke and go as strong in the second 50 as I did in the first 50,” Brenna said. “I was born with severe lung problems, which makes breathing during and after my races very difficult. Many of my races were only about 20 minutes apart, so I learned to race, get a cool down and control my breathing all in a short amount of time, so I was able to race again and do the best I could. I was very proud of myself with how I handled this. It’s not easy to race well when it is hard to breathe, but I have learned a lot about myself in how to do the best I can.”
Brenna talked about competing against some of the best young athletes in the country.
“There was a group of girls who were really fast,” Brenna said. “It was fun racing against them because it made me work even harder to try and beat them. They were all really nice girls and it was fun becoming friends with them.”
Brenna said she can’t wait to get back to the Junior Olympics next summer.
“This experience showed me that I can set my goals high and I can reach those goals,” she said. “I know that I can recover from an event quickly and still swim well in the next race. Competing at the Junior Olympics was so much fun and I can’t wait to go back next year.”