Theilemann excels beyond prep swimming career |

Theilemann excels beyond prep swimming career

South Lake Tahoe native Tara Theilemann is going to find out what it takes to make it in the elite ranks of college swimming.

Theilemann, 17, is a recent graduate of Carson High School but attended Lake Tahoe Unified schools until her freshman year. She currently swims for the Carson Tigersharks. She was recruited by the University of Alabama to attend on a full-ride swimming scholarship this fall and compete in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle.

The University of Alabama is ranked nationally in the top 20 for both men’s and women’s swimming.

Theilemann already has one lofty goal for her post-prep career.

“I hope to make the NCAA Division 1 championships my first year,” she said. “I just want to make it there because it’s a pretty big meet for college swimmers.”

Theilemann began swimming with the Tahoe Swim Club in 1995.

“The family moved to Carson City in 1999 so Tara and her brother, Ryan, could swim on a more competitive swim team that trained twice a day, six days a week,” said her dad, Stephen. “The more rigorous training enabled Tara to qualify for national meets.”

She was a high school All-American her junior and senior years and was the Nevada state champion in the 100 and 200 freestyle her senior year. In 2002, Theilemann’s time of 1 minute, 49.86 seconds in the 200 free ranked her 16th in the nation for high school swimmers.

“(Tigersharks) coach Jim Puleo helped me a lot in the 200 freestyle, which is my best event,” she said. “I went from 1:55 to 1:49 in a year, so that was pretty good.”

She also competed in two senior national championships in Florida and Indiana, as well as the 2002 U.S. Open in Minneapolis.

Theilemann cited Puleo’s “motivation and good coaching experience and ability” for helping her advance.

“He had pretty tough workouts. We swam close to 15,000 meters per day,” she said. “It was 10 times per week compared to the Tahoe swim team where we swam four days per week, once per day. I liked the Tahoe swim team because it was a lot of fun, but we needed to move down to Carson to get better and hopefully go to college for swimming.”

Theilemann is considering a major in environmental science.

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