Dirks-Ryan Lowther Jack Chat
Following a season where they helped lead NAU to a second place finish at the WAC Swim and Dive Championships in February, swimmers Chalene Dirks-Ryan, a senior, and sophomore Emma Lowther, competed for their home countries of Canada and New Zealand, respectively, at the Olympic trials. Dirks-Ryan and Lowther recently sat down with The Lumberjack to talk about their experience.
The Lumberjack: Canada and New Zealand; what was the experience like swimming at the Olympic trials, as opposed to an NAU meet? How surreal was it?
Chalene Dirks-Ryan: You look around and there’s so many people, the atmospheres different, it’s so serious. Here [At NAU] you have a larger group and its closer knit.
Emma Lowther: The intensity of Olympic trials is so high that it’s like a once in four years meet. We’re serious here, but we are more focused on the team and having fun.
CDR: You win as a team here, you lose as a team here. At the trials it’s just you.
LJ: You are teammates here, but race for two different countries. Was there any gamesmanship between the two of you?
CDR: We were in two different countries, so we weren’t racing in the same place. But we supported each other and our goal was to have fun and be proud of whatever we did.
EL: We were both going through the same thing, so we understood. The whole team was supportive. I would check my email and Facebook and I’d have messages from the team and coaches.
LJ: If you had to pick one Olympic moment that stands out for you, what would it be?
CDR: There were so many moments. There was a girl named Brittany McClain, her sister swims as well. Her sister came in fifth to make the 4×200 relay, and the next night she made it. She ran up to her and pulled her out of the water, and hugged her and they were both crying. I got teary eyed.
EL: It would probably be the Beijing Olympics with Michael Phelps in the 100 fly, when it looks like he got beat and he wasn’t going to get all of his gold’s and he out-touched. I got goose bumps because he had done something so incredible.
LJ: In terms of getting amped up, if you had to pick one pre-race song to listen to, what would it be?
CDR: I’m all about Lil Wayne, so anything Lil Wayne and I’m good to go.
EL: This is embarrassing haha, I think its “The Motto” by Drake.
LJ: Are there any foods you eat pre or post-race?
CDR: I eat a banana. My banana and my water bottle and I’m good to go.
EL: Before I race I have three Naturals lollies, they’re these lollies back way, what do you call them candy? Haha, I’m sorry. I’ve been home for too long. It’s this candy from back home I used to race on when I was younger. Afterward, I would have half of a granola bar.
LJ: How did the support from everyone here at NAU help you ease your mind and focus?
CDR: It gives you a confidence, the confidence that people believe in you. That they believe you worked so hard that you really deserve to be doing what you’re doing.
EL: The first or second day I raced it didn’t go as well as I hoped it would go. I thought I let everyone down, but it was the opposite, it meant a lot. It made me positive at a time I would have been negative otherwise.
LJ: Do you have plans to go to the 2016 trials?
CDR: I would love to go. Just being in that atmosphere is so amazing, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’d love to go, but it’s just a matter of four more years, putting in the work.
EL: At this stage it’s definitely a goal of mine. But, I mean so many things can happen, right now, it’s what I’m working towards. We’ll see how it goes.