BYU senior qualifies for second Olympic trials

Ty Mullen
BYU senior Payton Sorenson, pictured here in the Cougars’ newly renovated swimming facility, qualified for his second Olympic trials in December. (Ty Mullen)

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Payton Sorenson isn’t just a good swimmer: he’s a world-class swimmer. At just 27 years old, Sorenson has become one of the world’s best sprinters and made it into the semifinals of the 2016 Olympic trials.

“I wasn’t expecting to make it that far last time,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson had only been home for a year from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he surprised both himself and his coaches with his performance. His success at that time continues to fuel his training.

“It gave me a taste for it because I didn’t think I was going to make it that far,” Sorenson said.

After four years, the BYU senior will once again participate in the Olympic trials with aspirations to represent — along with the rest of the national team — the U.S. at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Sorenson qualified for the Olympic trials at the U.S. Winter Nationals meet in December when he completed the 50-meter freestyle event in 22.45 seconds. He placed second at the meet, taking home a silver medal. Along with qualifying, Sorenson also set a personal record time.

“This time, I know that I’m capable of doing well,” he said. “Having that depth in my self-belief is going to take me further.”

Sorenson isn’t the only one who’s optimistic about the upcoming trials. Head coach John Brooks is also optimistic about Sorenson’s coming opportunities, though he acknowledges their inherent difficulties.

“We (the U.S.) have the fastest swimmers in the world, so to make the Olympic team you have to be one of the top two swimmers in the world,” Brooks said. “He is currently ranked 17th in the world. In our country, he is ranked fourth or fifth.”

Brooks asserts that as the 17th fastest swimmer in the world, Sorenson would be a shoo-in for the national team of any other country.

“It’s a tall task, but he’s a very strong competitor, and he wants to do his very best,” Brooks said on Sorenson’s prospects for making it onto the U.S. national team.

Brooks has been working closely with Sorenson to ensure he can be at his best for the trials. Sorenson says that he has been working feverishly on the mental aspect of swimming to improve his times.

Payton Sorenson, center, poses with his wife Kylie, right, and daughter Willow, left. (Payton Sorenson)

“It’s a lot of mental prep in and out of practice,” Sorenson said. “There’s a lot of technicalities that go behind the strokes and it takes a lot of repetition to get those down to where you can use them when it comes time to race.”

Brooks has also noticed the progress being made in Sorenson’s abilities.

“He’s faster than he’s ever been before,” Brooks said.

In the upcoming Olympic trials, Brooks won’t be the only one in Sorenson’s corner. Last August, Sorenson married Kylie. She will also be cheering for her new husband’s success in the coming months.

Kylie praised the dedication that her husband has for the sport, noting the time commitment it requires for training.

“It’s super time consuming,” she said. “But he puts a lot of hard work into it.”

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