By Sharon Robb

January 8, 2016—With her competitive fires burning once again, Florida-born Megan Romano is more than ready to challenge for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

Romano, who turns 25 on Feb. 2, has joined South Florida Aquatic Club’s ProFlo Group.

The University of Georgia alum has joined 2013 U.S. worlds teammate Claire Donahue, three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson and several other talented pro swimmers training for trials or the Aug. 5-21 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.

Romano arrived in South Florida this past week. She has already done five workouts and one dryland and said she is loving every minute of it.

“I am really excited to be here and training outside,” said Romano, who had been training in Athens, Ga. and before that Austin, Tex.

“I grew up in Florida and I love being outdoors. I love the girls and the guys. It’s such a great group of people. They are my age and we are all training for the same goal. And, this is such a beautiful area down here.”

Romano was born in Tampa and grew up in St. Petersburg. She has been winning medals since she was 6 years old. She graduated from St. Petersburg Northeast High School, where she was a state champion and trained with St. Petersburg Aquatics. At 6-foot-1, she gave up basketball and volleyball to focus on swimming.

Her swimming resume is impressive. She has been part of an American record relay; set American, U.S. Open, NCAA and Georgia records in the 200 freestyle; broken American short course records; won gold medals at world championships and swam a tremendous anchor leg to bring the U.S. from behind to win the 4×100 relay at the 2013 World Championships.

Romano is training for her third Olympic Trials. She qualified in 2008 and 2012. She just missed making a relay for the 2012 London Olympics by one place finishing seventh in the 200-meter freestyle.

Three weeks after the 2012 U.S. Trials at the U.S. Open in Indianapolis, Romano won the 100-meter freestyle in a meet record 53.92, 200-meter backstroke in 2:09.08 and 200-meter freestyle in another meet record of 1:57.54. With those swims she would have made the Olympic team in all three events and won the 100 freestyle at Trials.

“I guess timing is everything in swimming,” said Romano, whose mantra is “everything happens for a reason.”

It took Romano some time to get over the disappointment.

“Obviously, I was really bummed after the Trials,” Romano said. “I am not going to lie. The last couple of years have been hard. I was ready to do other things.”

Romano returned to training but admittedly felt like she wasn’t fully focused and was just going through the motions. It was also hard her first year out of college being the only post-grad on the Athens Bulldogs.

“I just felt I wasn’t swimming to my ability,” Romano said. “I was still doing it but I wasn’t pushing myself. When I got here I wasn’t in as bad shape as I thought I would be and that’s exciting, even though they did kick my butt and those last two sets really tested my ability.”

Romano said had she made the 2012 team she would not be swimming today.

Donahue and Romano have been good friends since the 2013 World Championships. When she heard Donahue and her coach joined SOFLO, she called and asked “would you mind if I came down and joined you guys.”

“I recently got a fire under me and I want to give it another shot,” Romano said. “I really want to make the team. I have goals I want to accomplish. I am having fun with it again. I am going to give it everything I have. I already feel way more better in the water than I have in a long time.

“My goal now is to make the team,” Romano said. “I am not going to get too specific with my goals. I want to make the team and medal in whatever it is.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

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