Feb. 21, 2012
The following article is part of a series covering the 2012 Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championships. The content was produced by journalism students from the University of Maryland.
By Spencer Israel
ANNAPOLIS, Md. --Laura Gorinski re-wrote the record books.
The junior from Navy broke multiple records at the 2012 Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championships, including her prior league record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:10:67.
The time was also good enough to break the Patriot League Championship meet record, as well as the record for the building, LeJeune Hall.
"I was just trying to stay relaxed," Gorinski said Saturday evening after the meet. "I swim my best when I'm relaxed."
Gorinski broke the record at last year's championships with a time of 2:11:10. Just like last year, it was clear from the opening lap that Gorinski would make a run at the record. By the second turn she opened up a sizeable lead, and ultimately finished five seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Colgate's Emma Santoro.
While Gorinski said she wasn't trying to break her record, she felt she had a shot.
"I felt good this morning, and I usually swim my best on the third day," she said. "So I tried to use that mentality to my advantage."
But Gorinski's dominance was not just limited to the final day of the competition.
On Friday, she finished first in the 200 individual medley, and broke the meet and league records in the process with a time of 2:00:45.
"I think I'm more happy about that than anything," she said. "To break two minutes in the IM is definitely a lifelong goal of mine, and to have that happen is pretty cool."
She also swam a 1:01:47 in the 100-meter breaststroke Friday, good for another league record. "It's pretty cool to hold the records," she said. "[Breaststroke] is my best event, so I was most excited to swim it and see what happens."
For her coach, the results were a byproduct of a carefully executed strategy, one that Gorinski worked on all year.
"We had a little game plan this morning [Saturday] to come in and swim a decent time, but just to stay relaxed and see what we can do," Navy head coach John Morrison said. "She knew that race strategy coming in this year, to really push hard in the first half and just try to hang on."
At the 100-yard mark, Morrison said Gorinski was on her record pace, but he was anxious for the final two laps because that's where, he said, she usually slows down a bit.
"But she was right there at the end, and she really pushed through," he said. "We were all just really happy for her."
Gorinski was hopeful her time in the 200 breaststroke would be fast enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament in March. She already qualified for the Olympic trials this summer. Her performance at the league championship gave her more confidence going into the meets against America's best swimmers.
"It was definitely something I was looking forward to all this season," she said of the trials. "To see myself swim like this at this [at the League Championship], it's pretty reassuring for this summer."
If the results of the Patriot League Championship put any lingering doubts to rest, it was with Gorinski's leadership skills, which Morrison said have finally developed.
"She's a tremendous worker in and out of the pool," he said. "She's really modest, but fortunately she shows in the classroom and in the pool what she's capable of and she's starting to really become that leader people try to emulate. She's the proverbial student athlete."