Team USA's Lindsay Grogan: Eight years in the making

By Kara Hille | May 14, 2014, 10:30 a.m. (ET)
Lindsay Grogan
Lindsay Grogan will compete for Team USA at the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships.

Making the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championship team has been a long time coming for Lindsay Grogan – about eight years to be exact.

The swimmer has been trying to make an international team since her very first U.S. Paralympics swimming meet in 2006. After finishing first in the 400-meter freestyle S9 event with a time of 5:08.67 at the 2014 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Spring National Championships/Spring CanAms in March in Miami, Grogan will be heading to Pasadena, Calif., in August to represent Team USA at the Pan Pacifics.

“I finally made a team,” Grogan said. “It took a while to get there.  I was relieved more than anything, but also, obviously pretty happy and excited.”

Grogan is a product of the Macon Waves club team and the Georgia Blazers, a state team for youth with physical and visual disabilities. The Georgia Blazers is a branch of BlazeSports America, a Paralympic Sport Club, which offers adaptive sport programs throughout the country. 

In addition to her upcoming stint with Team USA, Grogan is also currently a member of the Athens Bulldogs swim club, a non-profit USA Swimming registered organization based out of the University of Georgia.

While she swam before, Grogan learned that she could compete for her country when she was at her first U.S. Paralympics swim meet.

“That’s when I was first introduced to the opportunities available with Paralympic swimming,” said Grogan, “even the fact that I could make an international team.”

It has been her goal since but not something that she was always fully committed to achieving.

For many athletes, there often comes a time when a decision needs to be made to either keep training, or pick up a full-time job.  There is rarely time for both so Grogan, a University of Georgia graduate who has a B.A. in journalism and master’s agree in kinesiology, picked swimming.  

“It was the option that made the most sense if I wanted to keep swimming,” Grogan said. “I had already graduated college, and it’s hard to have a full time job and train for your sport at this level, so that was the main factor.”

She moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., in September 2014 to pursue a career as a swimmer. Her move came almost exactly two years ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which are Sept. 7-18.

Since relocating to the OTC, Grogan has felt more focused on her goals.

“To get better, faster and to make an international team was one of my goals when I came here.  I changed up a lot of my training, and living out here has been a motivator.”

Though Grogan has broadened her sights when it comes to her training, she knew what she had to do in order to make the Pan Pacific team at the Spring CanAms in March.

“I tried not to think about it too much, and tried to not put too much pressure on myself,” Grogan said. “I’ve been to so many selection meets and I’m always thinking about trying to make a selection team.  After not making the U.S. Paralympic Team for London, I just decided to not really think about times or a making a team, but instead I tried to concentrate on being a better swimmer.”

Grogan notes that she’s felt added pressure to excel since joining the resident team, but with the extra pressure came a change in motivation to reach her personal goals.

“I think being on the resident team, you’re expected to do well at these competitions, but I try not to let the pressure get to me.  It’s made me raise my expectations – just being around the team.   They all have the same goals – or similar goals to me – so seeing that they’re striving to reach those goals makes me realize that I should be aiming really high also, and that I should be expecting bigger things from myself, too.”

Now that she’s made the team that will travel to Pasadena, Grogan has extra motivation to stay in top shape throughout the summer.

“I’ll definitely be more focused this summer than past summers.  I always have a taper meet at the end of the summer, but normally it’s just a state meet or an able-bodied meet. Knowing I have a championship meet to work towards, that will give me some motivation.”

Seeing friends held back from the Pan Pacific team after the spring CanAms, Grogan can relate to what they’re going through.

“It’s always hard when you see people that make the team and it seems like maybe they’ve just come on to the scene, or they haven’t been around that long, and that’s hard to watch,” Grogan said. “But honestly, if you really want something then you just have to keep setting goals.”

With a roster spot on her first international team, Grogan has a lot of advice to offer up-and-coming swimmers.

“I really wanted to go to the 2008 Paralympics, and that was a pretty big leap from where I was at that point in time, so just set goals that are just small steps along the way to where you want to get to. Hard work is the only thing that will get you there.”

She also has advice for her 2006 self.

“I would tell myself that even if it takes a lot longer to get where I want to be, it’s still worth it because of the experiences that I’ll have, and the people I’ll get to meet along the way.”