COLUMBIA — MU sophomore Dominique Bouchard looked to her left. Standing next to her was Kathleen Hersey, who had already won a gold medal. Further down the line was Olympian Amanda Weir.
Just over a minute after the swimmers jumped into Mizzou Aquatics Center pool to start the women's 100-meter backstroke championship race at Saturday's Missouri Grand Prix, Bouchard looked up at the scoreboard to see that she had won the gold medal in the event.
"It's awesome (to win in front of my home crowd)," Bouchard said. "I didn't even expect it. I was just coming into the meet to get used to the long course and start my season off well, and I guess it started off better than I thought it would."
Bouchard's swim of 1:01.14 was a personal best.
"She's a great girl. She does everything we ask, and she's really reaping the benefits of that now," Missouri coach Greg Rhodenbaugh said.
Next month, after the NCAA Championships, Bouchard will set her sights on the 2012 Summer Olympics.
"It's amazing to show myself that I can be at their level, and it really, like, brings my hopes up to hopefully go to the Olympics in 2012 and maybe even make a final there," Bouchard said.
Bouchard, who is Canadian, will compete in the Canada Olympic Trials in April. Her teammate Lauren Lavigna, a senior, will also be competing there in the backstroke. Lavigna swam a 1:03.87 in prelims on Saturday morning but scratched from the finals because she was not feeling well.
Bouchard will go for another medal on Sunday when she competes in the 200-meter backstroke. She is the current Missouri record holder in that event. Lavigna will compete in the 200 as well if she is healthy.