On Sunday, June 26, 2016, Highland Park High School graduate (class of 2012) James Shangle made his Olympic trials debut. Although his time failed to win James a spot in the semi-finals, he and his family nevertheless were pleased with his performance.
The record-holding swimmer, who graduated in June from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), raced the100-meter long-course breaststroke at the trials held in Omaha, Nebraska. Cheered by his sister Kayleigh and parents Keith and Elaine, James finished the intense race with a time of 1:04.69 minutes – a time that proved him to be a fierce competitor.
“I was absolutely satisfied with my performance at trials for two reasons,” said James. “First and most importantly, I was able to remain calm and execute my start, turn, and underwaters with the perfection of 16 years of training, under the most intense spot light I have ever experienced. I am also very proud to say that I improved my ranking by 18 spots at the fastest meet in the country,” he said. Competing against more than 130 elite swimmers, James was able to move up 18 rankings after his race compared to his ranking after the qualifiers.
James trained for many years to reach his goal of swimming at the trials and gave useful advice for future Olympic trials swimmers.
“If you ever feel that something seems too difficult, think about everything you have done to bring yourself to the challenge in front of you, and you will realize that you have always been prepared to succeed. Have pride, be confident, and stay calm, because you deserve to accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
When asked what he took away from the experience of the Olympic trials, James said that “the most valuable lesson is that no matter how many people are watching or how talented your competition is, remember that it is just a race. (I kept telling myself that the race was) just like the hundreds I’ve done before to bring myself to where I am now.”
Kayleigh Shangle, also a Highland Park High School grad (class of 2009) and TCNJ record-holding swimmer, spoke about her experience at the trials.
“We had a wonderful trip and really enjoyed the excitement of the whole event. I was so proud to see James swimming in the most elite of settings in USA Swimming and representing himself as well as all of the teams in which he has participated over the course of his swimming career. He explained it best, that swimming at the Olympic Trials was a testament of his gratitude to the teams of which he was a part, and the support he received along the way from coaches, teammates, and of course his family,” said Kayleigh.
Kayleigh noted that she was not the only Shangle in Omaha to lend support to James. “My parents also had a wonderful time, they have supported my brother and me for almost two decades of swimming, and to (watch James) finish his career at the highest pinnacle of swimming competition was truly a dream come true.”
For James and Kayleigh, the competition will not be the only thing to remember about the trials. The excitement of being among the world’s best swimmers was significant to both siblings. Kayleigh concluded: “The highlight of experiencing the Olympic Trials was being surrounded by such an elite selection of swimmers, all there to perform and race. The intensity of the meet was felt in the entire city and that really resonated with James and me. ”