Emma Weber Seizes Moment To Represent Virginia, Team USA At Olympics

Virginia Cavaliers Emma Weber Emma Weber posted her personal best time in the 100 breaststroke to earn a spot in the Olympics. ~ Photo courtesy of Jamie Holt/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

By winning four straight National Championships, many swimmers have become well known names in Virginia athletics.

Gretchen Walsh earned both the ACC Swimmer of the Year honor and the Mary Garber Award for the ACC’s female athlete of the year this season. In addition to many collegiate accolades, Kate Douglass, Paige Madden, and Alex Walsh already won Olympic medals.

Emma Weber may not be as well known yet despite contributing to the last two team National Championships. After a dynamite swim at the U.S. Olympic Trials earned her a spot on Team USA for the Paris Olympics this summer, however, that may be changing. Weber clocked in at 1:06.02 in the 100 breaststroke to finish second at trials and secure her spot on the roster.

In the moment, the magnitude of that achievement uncorked a variety of emotions with happy shock among them.

“I’m actually at a loss for words right now,” Weber said in a SwimSwam.com interview shortly after her swim. “I looked up and I go ‘I don’t think that’s right.’ I mean it’s just an amazing feeling. It’s a tribute to my whole team because I couldn’t have done it without the UVA girls. It’s amazing.”

By taking second at the U.S. Trials, Weber topped her best ACC placement in either year in the 100 breaststroke as she took third in the conference meet in both 2023 and 2024. At the NCAA Championships, her best swim gave her eighth place in 2023 and she came home third in the B-Final this past season. While those are in the short course pool and Weber’s style may translate better to the long course, it’s certainly part of what may have surprised some Virginia fans when she touched the wall with new Olympic dreams in Indianapolis.

Weber’s swim at the trials marked her personal best in 100 breaststroke in the long course pool by 0.48 seconds. That said, she’s not a stranger to success on the bigger stages. She swam for the U.S. Junior National Team previously and represented Team USA at the 2023 Pan Am Games too where she won silver as part of the 4×100 Medley Relay. She won a bronze medal at the 2021 FINA World Cup too.

After a good swim in San Antonio for the TYR Pro Swim Series when she posted a 106.50 to rank 16th in the world at the time, however, Virginia and Team USA coach Todd DeSorbo thought she had put herself in the mix for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

“I don’t know that it was necessarily completely unexpected – we thought she had a good chance – but I think when you’re in that position and you actually do it, I don’t know that it’s necessarily surprise that sets in, it’s excitement and happiness,” DeSorbo said. “I think she was surprised in the moment, but I think she also was confident that she could do it.”

That confidence stemmed from at least two angles.

First, Weber drew inspiration from her Cavalier teammates. With proven Olympians and world caliber swimmers around her on a daily basis, Olympic goals become more tangible. She said in the SwimSwam interview that it’s a calming feeling having so many Virginia teammates around in the big moments since they are also there for all the behind-the-scenes small moments. Weber also said the Hoos’ belief in one another is infectious and that her own belief in teammates actually fuels her self-confidence at the same time.

Second, DeSorbo helped fuel more confidence with his belief her. As he’s done with many UVA swimmers, he helped Weber believe it was possible. Plus, he saw the commitment she made in the pool, noting that she set the goal in September 2023 to make the final at the Olympic Trials and then trained to make it possible.

DeSorbo helped Weber ground herself before the big moment too.

“He was just telling me to go out there and do the best I can, just rely on what you’ve been doing in practice,” Weber said in the SwimSwam.com interview. “Saying that to myself going into the race is how I was able to achieve this.”

Between the confidence gained through UVA camaraderie and the work she put in, she was able to swim her best in the biggest moment. That thrust her name into the spotlight more than before and put her in the same Olympian category as fellow Regis Jesuit High School graduate Missy Franklin.

Ultimately, Weber came through when all the Olympic chips were on the table. Whether it was the proverbial chip-and-a-chair poker mentality or just-get-a-lane swimmer’s mindset, she “took full advantage of it” as DeSorbo put it with that big swim in Indy.

“I think her situation is a little bit different than some of our other athletes because I think there were expectations on others and there weren’t on her,” DeSorbo said. “I think that’s the best place to be in. She had nothing to lose and the person who has nothing to lose is the most dangerous.”

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