Haley Chura, an associate at CPA firm Bennett Thrasher, is trying out for a spot on the U.S. Olympic swimming team on July 4.
She will be competing in trials for the 200-meter backstroke event in Omaha, hoping to earn a place at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Chura, 22, is currently seeded 21st out of approximately 90 swimmers on the strength of her college swimming experience.
While at the trials this week, she has seen three U.S. swimmers, including Katie Hoff, break world records, and at least three other world records have been broken at the trials this week, so she isn't confident about getting a place on the team.
"I'm going to the Olympic trials in Omaha, but my chances of making it are very, very slim," she admitted. "Mostly I'm going for the experience. It's cool that someone who works and who doesn't necessarily train all the time can do this. You don't have to be 18 years old to start up something like this."
After she began working at Bennett Thrasher a little over a year ago, she joined the firm's track club, part of BT's work/life balance program. So far, she has run in three marathons in the last seven months, including the Boston Marathon. "I never thought I could do that," she said. "But one thing led to another, and I decided, hey, if I can run a marathon, why not try for the Olympics?"
During one marathon, her coworkers tracked her progress online and sent her text messages. "I probably cost the firm a lot of productivity that day," she said.
Her supervisor, Michael Duke, a shareholder at Bennett Thrasher, is also head of the BT Track Club, whose members have run in the Atlanta Marathon, the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, the ING Georgia Marathon, and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego.
"Haley's qualifying for the Olympic trials was something she accomplished while still in college," said Dukes. "I think it's a great example of our culture as a firm. We've encouraged her to spend her time and do her best. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We're very proud to support that no matter how she fares in her results."
At the firm, she mainly audits local, privately held companies. "One of my clients faxed over a card they had all signed," she said. "We have a great client base. I feel very, very lucky."
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