Blue Valley West and University of Georgia graduate Shannon Vreeland is looking at another bid for Olympic gold in swimming.
Back in 2012, she swam for the United States in the London Olympics. And, yes, she was quite successful swimming on the 800-meter freestyle relay that struck gold in the event.
She has fond memories of her first-place Olympic gold medal.
“A lot of it is just a blur because I was so excited to just be there,” says Vreeland. “Finding out that I got to swim on the finals relay and actually swim for the gold medal was huge to me.
“Getting to stand up on the podium with one of my closest friends and listen to the national anthem, the way I’d watched on TV in awe so many times before is definitely something I’ll never forget.”
Her 200 free split on the relay was 1:56.8.
Vreeland is on the US National Team and will be busy swimming in meets around the country and around the world. This summer is a big time for training for the 2016 US Olympic Trials and hopefully a trip to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The games are in August of 2016.
It comes as no surprise that she got started early in the sport of swimming.
“A lot of my friends in elementary school were swimming,” she says. “My neighborhood didn’t have a swim team so a friend suggested trying out for the Kansas City Blazers.” Blazers is a United States Swimming age-group team.
“I joined the novice group and learned the strokes. I made my way to through every level of the team until I graduated.”
Vreeland excelled as she swam for the Blazers.
“I made a couple of National Junior B teams and had qualified for the summer Junior and Senior Nationals,” she says. “I won some high point honors at Sectionals and made the finals at some national meets.”
She decided to attend the University of Georgia and started college in the fall of 2010.
“On my recruiting trip I felt an instant connection with the coaches, they truly seemed like people that would have my best interests at heart and people I would enjoy swimming for four years,” she says. “I couldn’t have made a better decision or have been more right about the kind of people and coaches they are.
“I also loved Georgia’s honors program, school was always as important to me as swimming and I knew they had a great program,” she adds.
Vreeland had a good career for the Georgia Bulldogs.
“My favorite memory of my time at UGA was when we won our first National Championship my junior year,” she says. “The team just got after it day in and day out and it culminated in the perfect meet. Everything seemed to go our way. Everyone was so happy and I got to do it with two of the girls that were seniors and two of my closest friends.”
During her college career, she was a 19-time NCAA All-Americana and swam on four NCAA winning relays. In 2014, she was the Kansas City Sports Commission’s Sportswoman of the Year. That same year, she was given a NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award for her academics, athletics and community work at Georgia. She is looking at taking some law classes this fall while she continues training for the 2016 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha.
“The Trials are just another swim meet, just with a little more pressure,” she says. “The top two in each event make the team and top six in the 100-and-200-meter freestyles for relays.”
Once again, Kansas Citians will be rooting for this hometown talent.