Road to Rio runs through Russia for Martin at World Championships


MADISON, Wis. – Ivy Martin has come a long way from the pools of Madison.

The lifelong Wisconsin native was raised on the pool decks of Wisconsin, including her illustrious career swimming for the University of Wisconsin. Swimming has become much more than just a passion for Martin. It’s turned into a career, and one that has taken her all around the world.

This week, Martin finds herself in Kazan, Russia competing with the USA Swimming team at the 2015 FINA World Championships.

“Being on Team USA is truly a dream come true,” Martin said. “I love everything about it. It’s really cool to be able to travel the world with such an elite group of athletes. I’ve loved getting to know my teammates and learning from them. They’re a very special group of people.”

A special talent in her own right, Martin will don the USA on her swim cap Saturday when she competes in the 50-meter freestyle at the World Championships.

“I think every young swimmer has a dream of being on a national team and wearing a cap with your name and your country’s flag on it,” Martin said. “It feels surreal to have made it that far. The World Championships is the second-biggest competition in swimming, with the Olympics being the biggest.”

The next major step in her goal to represent the USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the World Championships is an event Martin has been fully focused on training for since graduating from Wisconsin this spring. Fortunately, being a Madison native, she’s been able to do so from home and train alongside former coaches and teammates.

“It felt like a normal summer for me as far as training goes. I’m still in Madison with the same team and the same coaches,” Martin said. “I’m thankful that I get to stick around, because I think the familiarity has been really good for my training.”

One of those familiar faces is fellow UW alumni Michael Weiss, who is also with Martin in Kazan competing for the U.S. at the World Championships. Weiss swims Sunday in the 800 Freestyle Relay.

“It’s really nice having Michael here with me. He’s a great role model and friend, so it’s neat to be able to travel the world with him and represent the USA,” Martin said.

Another familiar face on the pool deck at the World Championships is Whitney Hite, current head coach of the University of Wisconsin swimming and diving program. Hite was one of three selected to serve as a men’s assistant coach for the USA swim team at the World Championships.

“It’s really nice having Michael and Whitney here with me as a resource,” Martin said of the fellow Badgers. “Whitney is a great coach and he instills some confidence in me, which helps me out a lot. Although he’s technically a men’s coach here, I still am able to use him as a resource. I’ve done some practices with him here and that familiarity is helpful. He knows me so well and it’s nice to be able to ask him for any advice that I may need.”

Preparing to swim in the 50 Freestyle, Martin hopes to be at her best for World Championships.

“If I could be the best I’ve ever been, that would be a huge success for me,” Martin said of her personal goals. “It would be awesome to make top eight and be swimming in a World Championship final, but I really just want to be my best – whatever that is.”

Simply stated, when at her best, there aren’t many swimmers as elite as Ivy Martin.

Martin cemented herself last season as one of the greatest to rep the Motion W on their swim cap. The only time Martin finished worse than first in the 50-yard freestyle her senior season was when she placed runner-up at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Named Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships for a second-consecutive season, Martin won all seven events she competed in at the 2015 Big Ten Championships. She set school and Big Ten records in the 50-yard freestyle (21.57) and the 100-yard freestyle (47.24), as well as a UW record in the 100-yard butterfly (51.76).

A 16-time All-American and 13-time Big Ten champion over the course of her collegiate career, Martin was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree all four years at Wisconsin.

Yet, true to Martin’s genuine personality and work ethic, she’s still as humble and hungry as ever.

“I feel so thankful for this experience and being able to make a dream of mine a reality,” Martin said. “Being on this team makes me want so much more. It really fuels my determination of qualifying for the Olympics next summer.”

The road to Rio runs through Russia for Martin, and it begins Saturday in the 50 Freestyle.

“I feel really good about my preparation for this meet,” Martin said of the World Championships. “Last year at the Pan Pacific Championships, it was the first time I had raced internationally. Now that I have that experience, I have much more confidence going into this next meet.

“I have no doubt that I’m faster than I was last year, so I’m excited to swim and have my performance reflect all of the hard training I’ve done this past year.”