Spring Grove’s Hali Flickinger set out to bring home the hardware from Tokyo this summer. As the swimmer returned to her home in Arizona last week, two bronze medals hung around her neck.
To some, that’s a job well done. To Hali, business is far from finished.
The 27-year-old Flickinger competed in her second Olympic games this July in Tokyo. She finished 7th in the 200-meter butterfly in the 2016 games in Rio.
In Tokyo 2020, Flickinger qualified for both the 200 Fly and the 400-meter individual medley. She finished with bronze in both events, the first medals of her career.
However, Hali isn’t satisified.
“I’m very disappointed,” she said of her bronze finish in the 200 fly. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have gotten up to race for our country. I’m so thankful to have been able to race with Regan [Smith]. Regan had a tremendous race, best time for her. It was cool to stand on the podium with her. Me, I have such a high goal, and I knew and my face probably showed it. I knew when I finished that, that was not what I was capable of doing.”
She talked of the pressure she felt as the world considered her one of the favorites to win the event.
“I knew how I was feeling before that race, and I did not feel good mentally, Flickinger said. “I was not in the best head space because of the expectations that I had put on myself from the outside world.”
While some would be thrilled with dual bronze medals, Flickinger says it was a lesson learned. One she hopes to grow from in the future.
“What’s the point in doing this if you can’t learn and grow?” Flickinger asked. “I look at the bronze medal as something I’m thankful for because I learned so much with that medal.”
Flickinger says her focus is now on elevating her mental game to match the pressure put on Olympians.
During the pandemic, she moved to Arizona to train with legendary coach Bob Bowman. The goal? Improve in and out of the pool to compete at the highest level by 2024.
“The way he approaches swimming and just coaching in general is so different than what I’ve had,” Flickinger said. “I think it’s something I personally really need. He does not let outside noise distract anything he does and that’s something I struggle with every day.”
She finds herself growing more on the mental side than the physical side under Bowman’s training. Still she says she wants to improve the breast stroke part of her individual medley performance, elevate to the Olympic level in more events and train as long as she loves the sport.
Flickinger represented Spring Grove, Pennsylvania in the 2020 summer games over 6,700 miles away from her hometown, and takes great pride in wearing the Team USA logo.
“We dominate in swimming and to know that you’re apart of the best swimming team in the world is wow,” Hali said. “What an honor and so much pride is held in that. I can pinch myself. It’s really cool and I’m so thankful to be in this position.”
Flickinger will resume training in August from her home in Arizona.
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