Lake Norman & Mooresville

15-year-old makes a name for herself in swimming

Maija Roses isn't old enough to drive, but she has already compiled a lifetime of achievements in the pool.

Roses, a Cannon School sophomore, has qualified for the U.S Olympic swim team trials in three different events: the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes and the 200-yard individual medley. She will compete in the Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb., in June.

Roses, who has swum year-round for SwimMAC since she was 3 years old, also recently spent two weeks of training with some of country's top talent in the pool at the U.S. Olympic Swimming training facility in Colorado.

"Going to Colorado Springs was very different but also very inspiring for me because I got to learn from some of the best swimmers in the world," Roses said, noting former U.S. Olympians like Ed Moses and Katie Hoff were there. "It's very humbling to be around so much talent, so many swimmers that are better than you."

Roses, 15, was able to get an up-close-and-personal look at major talents, such as 16-year-old national standout Missy Franklin, whom she says will likely burst onto the stage at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.

"Seeing swimmers like Missy definitely makes me want to work even harder," Roses said. "You always know there are people out there that are just as good or better and are working just as hard."

Roses has humbled most of her opponents over the past year in the pool for both SwimMAC and Cannon, having. He swam to a 1:10.68 time in the 100 breaststroke, a 1:32.02 in the 200 breastroke and a 2:19.50 in the 200 individual after enrolling at the Cannon School last January.

Then the Huntersville resident made a big splash for the Cougars as she was not only conference champion in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, but also won the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A state titles in both events in easy fashion.

"Maija had a big impact immediately for us with ability to just go out and swim at the highest level," said Cannon swimming coach Jennifer Brunelli. "It's rare to see an athlete so young to be so focused."

Roses' focus has been engrained in her, as she has consistently dedicated at least 30 hours per week to her craft in practice. Roses currently trains four days a week from 5 to 6:30 a.m. while training five to six days a week after school from 3 to 7:00 p.m. with her SwimMAC teammates.

She also works with coach Alan Pfau and Chris Webb at SwimMAC and with Brunelli, who was a seven-time All-American at South Carolina.

"I have a lot of great coaching from MAC on a daily basis to Coach Brunelli at Cannon," Roses said. "Coach Brunelli not only knows what I'm going through as a swimmer and can give me a lot of feedback, but she also knows how to make it fun."

Roses hopes to have a lot more fun in the next month as she takes on the conference field in the CISAA conference meet Feb. 9 before taking on the state's best at the NCISAA 3A meet on Feb. 21.

"Swimming in high school is definitely more about the team and winning together," Roses said.

Roses is also focused on securing her future as a collegiate swimmer and beyond.

"I definitely want to swim in college, but I'm also thinking about going pro afterwards already," Roses said, who is already receiving recruiting letters from schools across the country. "I've had extremely high expectations for myself and have set extremely high goals for myself for some time now."

Roses says she hopes to go to college out west, because of the swimming talent and weather. But for now, she is focused on being the best she can be, no matter where or when she is swimming.

"I try to look too far in the future because it makes me nervous to think about thing like Olympic trials," said Roses. "I try to focus on getting better on a daily basis because I know that will eventually get me where I want to go."