Despite missing her first chance for a spot by 0.42 of a point in synchronized springboard trials with teammate Kassidy Cook, Loukas, a former Olympian, still wasn’t worried about her last chance at a London ticket. She worried about preparing herself for what is to come.
“I just had a totally different mindset going into these trials,” Loukas told NBC Chicago. “My goal wasn’t just to make the team anymore, it was to make the team and get to London. I knew I had a good shot and I didn’t need to do anything spectacular. I just couldn’t dive bad.”
Loukas dove ninth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and this time around the Wrigleyville native is changing her game.
She swapped out her Indiana coach Jeff Huber to begin training in Houston with Ken Armstrong.
“I knew I needed a new set of eyes to bring my diving to the next level,” Loukas said. “My coach now is really good at making small changes to improve the scores of my dives, and I’ve gotten a lot more consistent.”
Even outside of practice she’s working to change up her routine. Loukas took up Pilates and yoga to help her become more lean and further her body awareness.
She spends her free time visualizing herself diving in the Olympic pool and performing a perfect dive. She knows perfection isn’t guaranteed, but she’s certainly going to try for it.
“If I do a bad dive you can’t do anything about it, you can’t change it,” she said. “That goes the same for when you do a really good dive, you can’t get too excited about it because you don’t know what’s going to happen on the other ones. You have to take it one dive at a time, and good, bad or ugly you move onto the next one.”
Though her progress is undeniable, the transition out to Houston for diving wasn’t easy.
She had to say goodbye to her relatives, her popular family owned business the Cubby Bear, Navy Pier, Cubs games and friends for a lonely new home.
“It was actually really hard for me,” she said. “I knew moving to Houston would be really different and really hard because I didn’t know really anyone. It was hard being away from family and friends, and it was so lonely at first.”
Luckily, the star diver countered her loneliness by getting her black lab, Kona, named after the Hawaiian island.
“That really helped me meet people,” she said. “I would take Kona outside like 15 times a day, so I was always seeing people and everyone loves dogs.”
The newfound friends didn’t keep Loukas from missing her family. Occasionally, if she was feeling lonely one of her relatives would fly out Houston and visit her. Their endless support meant no competition was too far, not even London.
Loukas said more than 20 relatives are planning their trip to the 2012 Olympics to show their support. Her mom, dad, aunts, uncles and cousins are all trekking out to watch her dive in the Games and cheer her on.
“[My family] is amazing,” she said. “They have been so helpful and so supportive through this whole journey. I couldn’t be more excited.”