No matter the pool that Lindsay Looney dives into, the Denison native continues to have success.
She rewrote the state and DHS record book across her four years, competed well in the summer at the national championships, in various meets for USA Swimming as one of the best for her age group and as a qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
So when Looney left her seven state championships in the rear-view mirror for Arizona State and famed head coach Bob Bowman, it was no surprise to see her make an immediate splash.
And except for the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the end of her freshman year — and the end to every college athlete's season — Looney's initial foray into Division I swimming was just about all she had hoped it would be.
“I loved every minute of it. I was really happy with the past year,” she said. “I graduated early to go to the Olympic Training Center. I trained there right through the summer. That really helped me acclimate to college life.”
At the Pac-12 Championships in late February, Looney's best effort came with a fourth-place finish in the 200 fly at 1:55.49 and she also made the finals in the 100 fly and finished 10th with a time of 53.23 seconds.
Her time in the 200 fly was the second-fastest in school history, behind only her effort from earlier in the season, and the 100 fly was the eighth-fastest time in school history.
She also contributed to a school record in the 800 free relay with Emma Nordin, Erica Laning and Cierra Runge in 6:58.09, lowering the previous mark by a little less than one second, to earn fourth place.
She also was part of a sixth-place finish in the 200 free relay with Camryn Curry, Laning and Jade Foelske for sixth place in 1:30.78.
To round out her effort at the Pac-12 Championships, she was 18th in the 500 free in 4:43.88.
Arizona State, which was ranked 17th in the country, finished fifth in the team standings.
“We really swam well,” Looney said. “I was proud of the team.”
The ending to her season, however, was nothing she could prepare for. After qualifying for the NCAA Championships in both fly events, the 500 free and as part of two relays, Looney was ready to compete when the coronavirus pandemic changed everything.
“It was three days before I had to leave for NCAAs that next week,” Looney said. “I was hanging out with my friends and refreshing Twitter. Everything was happening and I wanted to know what was going on.”
While Looney was waiting to find out the status of the Division I championships, her brother Davis, a junior at NYU, was waiting to find out about the Division III national meet — which he was going to compete in for the second time after being part of an All-American 800 free relay as a freshman.
“We were texting back and forth. His NCAAs were the exact same week as mine so my parents were going to divide and conquer,” Looney said. “We kind of experienced that heartbreak together.”
The NCAA made the quick decision to cancel all upcoming championship events.
“There were definitely a lot of tears,” she said.
Looney still had something to train for until a bigger competition on the horizon was postponed. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials were scheduled to be held in Omaha from June 21-28 with Looney to compete in both fly events. But after much debate among International Olympic Committee officials, the decision to push the Summer Olympics back a year was officially announced last week.
“Looking forward to the trials, let's keep this positive,” Looney said. “It was really making my brain run wild. Unfortunately that got cancelled as well, postponed another year.”
This year's Games were to begin on July 24 in Tokyo before being delayed until 2021, now scheduled to start almost exactly a year later. The last time an Olympiad was not held at all was in 1944 due to World War II and if the Tokyo Games do not take place next spring, Looney's following opportunity would be in Paris in 2024 before a chance on home soil in Los Angeles in 2028.
'We knew the right thing to do was postpone for a year. I was really glad the IOC did that,” Looney said. “It was the best decision for our country right now.”
It was not the ending she was hoping for. In the middle of February, Looney was named the Pac 12 Women's Swimmer of the Week for her performance in a victory against rival Arizona. Looney set the school record in the 200 fly with a time of 1:55.39, breaking the old mark of 1:56.14 set by Ashton Aubry in 2009.
“I was really excited to train under Bob and show the team what I was capable of,” Looney said. “I was looking forward to NCAAs to better that time.”
At the time of the race it was the 11th-fastest 200 fly time in Division I and she heads into her sophomore season with three of the top five 200 fly times by an Arizona State women's swimmer.
She also won the 100 fly in 53.65 seconds, sweeping both fly races for the second time during the season.
It became obvious Looney had a shot at setting the record when she won the event at the N.C. State Invite right before Thanksgiving with a time of 1:56.49, which was third-fastest effort by an ASU women's swimmer and the best in six years.
“The transition was a challenge. Freshman year was a whole 'nother ballgame. It was a lot different than I had experienced in high school,” Looney said. “This was the first time I've had meets back-to-back every weekend.”
Looney graduated from Denison last spring not only as the most decorated athlete in the school's history but in Texoma. Her list of accomplishments is both lengthy and impressive, beginning with her freshman season and never slowing down.
She was nearly unbeatable in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly — winning a total of seven state championships to go with a runner-up finish in the 100 fly as a freshman — and became the first Denison swimmer to qualify for the state meet in all four seasons.
As a junior she joined her brother and Tori Fryar as the only Yellow Jacket swimmers to make it to state at least three times and both Looneys are the only ones to do it consecutively.
She closed out her high school career by dominating the Class 5A meet, setting records in both events. She won her fourth straight 200 IM crown with a 5A mark of 1:59.33 by more than three seconds and then took a third straight title in the 100 fly with a time of 53.28 seconds, winning by more than a second. She broke her own record set in the prelims the previous day, the fourth time in the event Looney had lowered the 5A mark.
Looney is back home in Denison — like almost all of her teammates she left campus when ASU announced in-person classes would not be held after March 16 — finishing up her classwork with online courses.
For the first time in a long time, there is no meet on her schedule. The next time she competes will most likely be in October to kick off her sophomore season. The only pool she can use is the one in her backyard.
“There's no pools to train at. There's no teams allowed to train,” she said. “Training outside of the water is the biggest thing I can do. I have to focus on next year and it adds more fuel to the fire. It's another year to get better.”