Courtney Harnish talks about record-breaking Pan Am Games gold medal
With her extensive 12-month-a-year training schedule, it's rare when West York rising junior Courtney Harnish gets a break.
However in this case, she earned the time off she will get when her family vacations in Mexico later this month.
After all, Harnish was a part of the United States 800-meter relay team that not only won gold at last month's Pan Am Games, but broke a record in the process.
At 16-years-old, Harnish was the youngest on that relay but that didn't stop her from swimming a personal best split of 1:59.61. She teamed with Kiera Janzen, Allison Schmidt and Gillian Ryan to post a time of 7:54.32, nearly 7 seconds better than the previous mark.
She's returned from Toronto, Ontario, where the Pan Am Games were held, and will head to San Antonio, Texas for the Phillips 66 National Championships this week.
We caught up with her before she goes to nationals - and before she takes that well-deserved break:
Q What was the experience like at the Pan Am Games? It was definitely like no other meet I ever experienced. I liked how it was a bunch of different sports, not just swimming. I got to meet athletes from other sports . Everything was so organized. It was kind of intimidating at first. Towards the end I got used to it.
Q Did you four expect that record? I didn't. I am not sure about the other girls. I know we just wanted to go for gold and get personal bests and we ended up getting the record.
Q What was first thing that went through your mind? I was not expecting the record. I was extremely happy just being able to represent our country. Being up there with American flag on my cap. When you have your name and that flag on the cap you know you made it.
Q Did it motivate you more for a possible trip to the Olympics? Definitely. I never really pictured myself being there. It definitely opened up the idea. I am thinking a lot more into the future now.
Q What is next on Courtney's agenda? Senior Nationals, more training and the Olympic trials next June.
Q Would you ever consider a cyber or home school to allow you to train even more? I don't want miss anything about high school. It's not necessary. I am good with everything for now. When it gets to college, I am going to have to balance it all anyway.
Q Speaking of college, I bet your mailbox is pretty full with brochures and letters from swim schools? It is. I am not going to decide for awhile. I know I want to go somewhere warm.
FUN FACTS >>Harnish wasn't the only York YMCA swimmer at the Pan Am Games either. Her York teammate Meghan Small, from Lineboro, Md., also swam in the international competition and won a silver medal in the 200 individual medley and was 10th in the 200 breaststroke.
As a freshman, Harnish also swam for West York High School and won District 3 and PIAA gold in record-breaking performances. Her Pan Am relay mate Ryan was a district and state champion from Kutztown High School.