COLUMBIA — Senior swimmer Dominique Bouchard can't wait for the NCAA Championships. Some of her opponents even think she's good enough to finish first this year.
“I’m excited that I’m a part of people’s conversations,” Bouchard said. “Some of these girls that are training for it are like, ‘we have to really watch out for this girl in Missouri, she’s going to come for us, she has a good race strategy.’ So it’s really fun to be a part of that.”
With a time of 52.24 in the 100-yard backstroke, Bouchard broke her own record in last weekend's Mizzou invite. She also finished with a time of 1:52.15 in the 200-yard backstroke, which qualified her for the NCAA Championships in March.
This year will be Bouchard's last shot at the Championship. She placed second in the 200-yard backstroke during her sophomore year and third last year. Bouchard hopes to make this her "golden" season. Her coach is optimistic.
“She’ll be one of the swimmers that people are looking at to maybe win it,” Missouri head coach Greg Rhodenbaugh, said. “We’ve got two Olympians in the NCAA that swam at the Olympics and medaled, so she’s up against the very best in the world. But she’s also one of the best in the world, so she definitely has a shot.”
The Canadian native just missed out on the 2012 Olympics, placing fourth in the 200 and 100 meter trials last season, and is eager to put that experience behind her.
“That was kind of disappointing for me, but it was just a learning experience,” Bouchard said.
Although she hasn't given up on her Olympic dream, Bouchard is happy to be able to focus on preparing for the NCAA Championships and has embraced her role as captain of her team.
“She’s always been a leader by action,” Rhodenbaugh said. “But this year, as a senior, she’s really stepped up and been very verbal and organizational about leading the team. It’s been fun to watch her grow and mature in that way and really do an incredible job.”
With the Championships just three months away, Bouchard is brimming with confidence.
“I want people to know that they shouldn’t count me out in anything,” Bouchard said. “I am so ready for this, I am mentally prepared. I am physically prepared, and nothing is going to stop me.”