One Stroke Closer To Olympic Goal

Summer Harrison. Photo by Kira Fox

Sixteen-year-old Summer Harrison of Kaimuki is one step closer to her dream – becoming an Olympian.

With a time of 1 minute and 1.25 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly at the Senior Sectionals in Seattle earlier this month, she qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which start in late June in Omaha.

“When I saw that I made it, it was such a surreal moment,” recalls Harrison, a sophomore at Mid-Pacific Institute. “The moment I touched the wall and looked up at the scoreboard, I was just so happy. It’s everything I ever really wanted. I always wanted to reach that level, and I wouldn’t have done it without my coaches and team.

“And I would love to make the Olympics – that would be the ultimate goal.”

Harrison was born on Maui, and then moved to Kaua’i, Florida and California (for her father’s job), before returning to Hawaii where she’s been for the last seven years.

As a small child, she loved being in the water, learned to swim at age 2 and started competing at 8. Her parents, Sean and Shannon, swam for Long Beach State, and often spent family-time at the pool. “Swimming has always been a part of my life,” says Harrison, who has an 11-year-old sister, Sophi. “I tried many other sports, but I just loved swimming.”

Harrison, who previously swam for Punahou Aquatics and Rainbow Aquatics, is on the swim team for her school and for Kamehameha Swim Club. Her main events are the 100-meter butterfly, the 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter freestyle.

You can find her in the pool Monday through Friday after school for two-and-a-half hours, and on Saturdays for three hours.

“I really enjoy going to the swim meets,” she adds. “I enjoy racing and making those cuts for higher swim meets. And it’s just so much fun.

“For college, I would love to go somewhere in California because that’s close to where some of my family is. USC would be cool.”

An A-student in school, Harrison also plays the piano and enjoys surfing. She holds the Hawaii state record for the short-course 100-meter butterfly (previously held by Kathy Shipman for 32 years!), and the long-course 100-meter butterfly (also previously held by Shipman).

“The qualifying time (1 minute 1.99 seconds) that has to be achieved to qualify for the Olympic Trials is really difficult,” notes Kevin Flanagan, who is the co-head coach at Kamehameha Swim Club with brother John. “To qualify is a huge accomplishment. Summer is just a really happy, loving kid. The time she spends training, she always has a smile on her face.”