Palatine Tiger Sharks Swim Team Member Vera Conic Competes at the Olympic Trials

June 20, 2024

Vera Conic, a swimmer with the Palatine Park District’s Tiger Sharks, competed June 17 and June 20 in the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials, in the 100m and 200m backstroke. The trials conclude June 23 at a built-for-purpose pool at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. The swimmers are competing for the chance to swim at the Olympic Games, Paris 2024. Conic placed 19th in the 200m and 42nd in the 100m.

Dustin Thompson, Tiger Sharks Head Age Group Coach started working with Conic as a young swimmer of eight, and then again from 10 to 14 years. Conic, 16, currently works with Tony Gallagher, Head Coach and Swim Team Coordinator for the Tiger Sharks, as part of the high school groups. “She was always very dedicated,” Thompson said. “For the past four years she was focused on making Jr. Nationals and Olympic Trials.”

Tony Gallagher, Head Coach and Swim Team Coordinator for Palatine Tiger Sharks, praised Conic’s dedication. “Being selected is representative of the time, effort, and sacrifices that Vera has made as a member of the program,” Gallagher said. “Throughout her time with Palatine Park District, Vera has shown that she is willing to push herself towards her goals.”

 “I am a little bit nervous, but nerves are good because it means you care,” Conic said.  “I feel like it will be more fun than anything. I get to see all my friends from across the United States that I met at different meets and camps. There will definitely be a few of my idols coming there. So, I’m just going to focus on doing my best, hopefully maybe setting a personal best time.”

Conic’s journey in swimming began at age eight with the Tiger Sharks. Over the years, she has amassed a string of achievements, including Illinois State Champion titles in the 9-10, 11-12, and 13-14 age groups, state records, and national rankings. “She’s been a top performer since she was nine,” Gallagher said. “She’s continued to develop, setting state records and winning championships.”

Conic attributes much of her success to the support of her coaches and teammates. “I’ve been on this team since I was eight years old,” she said. “The coaching staff, with Tony and Dustin, have kind of made me the person I am today. My teammates really motivate me, and we all push each other to be the best version of ourselves.”

Gallagher elaborated on Conic’s training journey. “She had a set of coaches when she was 8 and then moved into a different group with me between 9 and 10,” he explained. “From 10 to 14, she swam primarily with Dustin [Thompson] as her lead group coach before getting back to me within our high school groups. So, from top to bottom, it’s been a cumulative effort. The things she was able to do, especially in her first year with our team, learning a lot of the fundamentals and swimming etiquette, were important layers to the foundation.”

“It’s going to be incredible swimming in such a big stadium,” Conic said. “I’m focusing on doing my best, maybe setting a new personal best time, and enjoying the experience.”

Gallagher, who has been with the Tiger Sharks since 2009, highlighted the significance of Conic’s achievements. “Seeing her break a state record when she was 12 in her 200 backstroke was a key moment,” he said. “From then on, it’s been about maintaining that momentum and helping her navigate the challenges and determination required to reach this level.”

Gallagher and the Palatine Tiger Sharks community are filled with pride as they support Conic’s journey. “This is just a testament to the hard work and dedication that Vera has put in over the years,” Gallagher said. “We’re super proud of her and excited to see what she can do moving forward.”

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