Rhinelander’s Malia Francis has Olympic Trial aspirations

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WSAW) - Three Rhinelander swimmers are heading to Saint Petersburg, Florida, for the International Swim Coaches Association International Senior Cup on Tuesday. Junior Malia Francis has even larger aspirations from there.

“I will probably be trying to get my Olympic Trial cut, which I’ve been working on for a while,” said Malia Francis.

Francis is within striking distance in the 200-meter backstroke and the 100-meter backstroke. Her personal record in the 100-meter backstroke is about half a second from the qualification time.

“I think I can do it,” said Francis.

The goal is there for the taking, but the competition will be tough for Francis.

“There are some pretty crazy swimmers down there,” said Francis. “I think my highest placing right now is fifth. I could be wrong. Fifth or sixth in one of my best events the 200 backstroke.”

The Liberty commit isn’t going to be disappointed if things don’t go her way. This is all part of the process of growing as a swimmer.

“Just like the experiences that we’ll get around some of those higher-level athletes,” said Francis. “I feel like it just helps me kind of prepare for my next step in my swimming.”

Francis won’t be alone. Her sister Karis Francis and Abbi Winnicki are both freshmen getting their feet wet in some stiffer competition. That’s where Malia steps-in.

“We push each other all the time in practice,” said Winnicki. “Being able to practice with her and seeing her go and swim as she does, it’s just extremely motivating.”

That urge to be great starts in herself...with a goal she has had for a long time.

“To be able to get the Olympic Trial cut and be at Olympic Trials, would be really cool, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was little,” said Malia Francis.

The three swimmers leave on Sunday. The events start on Tuesday and will go through Saturday.

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