The 50 freestyle is swimming chaos. From the moment the competitors hit the water, myriad splashes fill the pool. Blink once, and you will miss the event, as it takes less than 25 seconds to complete.
“What I like most about the 50 freestyle is the challenge,” said Gillmore. “It is fast, quick and over before you know it.”
The race is so fast that Gillmore rarely has the time to think about anything during the event.
“I do not remember swimming the 50 freestyle at the Big 12 Championships last year,” spoke Gillmore. “All I can recall is putting my hand on the wall, seeing my time and looking over at (West Virginia assistant coach) Damion Dennis.”
Ironically, the race she does not remember was, at that time, the best of her career. As a freshman last season, Gillmore placed ninth in the 50 free at the Big 12 Championships.
The mental component of swimming is a point of interest for Gillmore. Like many of her teammates, she worked with a sport psychologist last season. It intrigued her so much that she enrolled in the sport and exercise psychology program at WVU.
“I saw how much working with a sport psychologist helped me and decided to change my major,” articulated Gillmore. “Hopefully, I can assist athletes in the future.”
Gillmore excels in and out of the water. Last season she was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team, Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll.
“As much as I wish it could be, swimming will not always be there for me,” said Gillmore. “School comes first, and I need to put just as much time into studying as swimming.”
It takes a lot of discipline to succeed in both areas. Going to school far away from home, the Fleming Island, Fla., native understands this challenge. Self-determination has helped her succeed, but Gillmore admits to getting home sick, as trips home are rare.
“After first semester this year, I was able to go home for seven days,” spoke Gillmore. “After that, my parents drove me to the airport so I could attend our yearly training trip.”
The WVU swimming team trains during a portion of the winter in Key Largo, Fla. This meant Gillmore had the shortest commute of any Mountaineer swimmer. Racing in her home state gave her confidence. This was not because of the travel, but because of the pool’s environment.
“During our trip we train in an outdoor pool,” explained Gillmore. “Most of the team had never swum competitively outside before. I grew up in outdoor pools.”
Indoors or outdoors, confidence in the pool is key for Gillmore.
“When I get behind the blocks all I focus on is looking down the lane,” said Gillmore. “I have to be confident that I am the best swimmer about to dive into the water.”
For Gillmore, self-confidence and success share a correlative relationship. The belief in her own skill comes from hard work. Gillmore knows that great races come from even better training. This explains why she dislikes missing practice.
“I cannot stand missing practice,” spoke Gillmore. “I do not like knowing that other people are in the water getting better than I am.”
Another thing Gillmore is confident about is the competition. On the rare chance that she thinks mid-race, her thoughts pertain to her mechanics and opposition.
“The truth is my competitors are hurting just as bad as I am,” explained Gillmore. “So there is no reason to not push harder.”