COLUMBIA — Dominique Bouchard’s dreams were gone in three-one-hundredths of a second. In less time than it takes to blink, the Missouri swimmer had lost.
“I held myself together, until I got out of the pool, I just cried,” Bouchard recalls. “I couldn’t hold back. I was that emotional.”
“She was very visibly upset,” said Roric Fink, the Missouri swimming team's associate head coach about Bouchard, a promising junior for the Tigers.
“There’s really not a whole lot that you can say at that point. I was just supportive with her and said that that was a great swim, but she just got beat by a little.”
Bouchard, a native of Canada, swam in one of the biggest events of her career in April at the Canadian World Trials. Bouchard was coming off an exceptional sophomore season with the Tigers going into the event, setting a school and Big 12 Conference record with a silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke at the Missouri Grand Prix. If she could place in the top two of her events at the Canadian World Trials, she would qualify for the World Championship games.
“I felt like I was on cloud nine because I was on cloud nine,” Bouchard said. “I was just so excited about what was to come, and I was one-hundred percent positive that I was going to be the one going to the World Championships to represent Canada.”
But when it came time for the 200-meter backstroke final, she was a split second away. Bouchard finished third in the event and was able to qualify for the World University Games. She swam there this summer, but wasn’t confident in her swim and felt disappointed with her performances. But despite the disappointment, Bouchard has continued to train hard and keep herself motivated for her biggest goal this year, the Olympics.
“I still go back to that race, and it's just one of those times that is just so hard because I was just so mentally and physically ready for that race, and it just didn’t happen," Bouchard said. "The biggest thing for me since then is the mental. Physically I’m there. I’ve never been in this good of shape in my life. So, I just really need to work on the mental part.”
Bouchard clearly has the physical ability to perform at a higher level, but she will need the help of her coaches to get her mentally prepared for the year ahead of her.
“She's very passionate,” Missouri assistant coach Patrick Rowan said, “and that’s one of those things that’s great to have as a coach — to have athletes that are really passionate. But you got to catch both sides of that because with all those peaks you're going to have some valleys. With Dom, it's making sure that those valleys are brief and as shallow as possible because you know she's going to have those huge upsides, so consistency really matters.”
Bouchard will swim at her country's Olympic Trials in March. In order to swim for Canada at the Olympics in London, she will need to finish in the top eight at the preliminaries and then finish in the top two at the finals. But the trials aren’t new to the junior swimmer. Bouchard swam in the 2008 Olympic Trials and was unable to qualify because she was sick. Her experience, though, will give her the upper hand in 2012.
“Since I’ve been there before,” Bouchard said. “I can just take it as another meet and be able to just swim my own race.”
Even though the trials are six months away, Bouchard is excited for the Missouri Grand Prix in February and is already planning what she will do to be prepared for the Olympic Trials.
“We are going to move when I rest for swim meets and work harder and longer than we did last year, so that I can peak for trials instead of peaking for NCAAs.” Bouchard said. “So, I’m just getting ready to swim fast at conference and NCAAs, but have my best swim ever at the Olympic Trials.”