However, only a few Tiger Sharks through the years -- boy or girl -- have found themselves with quite the opportunity Nash Firebaugh has tonight.
Seeded ninth in the state with a time of 51.59, the sophomore finds himself just 0.02 seconds out of the top eight in the 100 butterfly.
It's a big leap for Firebaugh, who entered last year's finals at the Indiana University Natatorium seeded 25th before finishing 29th.
In total, 16 of the 32 entrants in the 100 butterfly will be back for Saturday's meet, but only the top eight swim in the championship finals.
A good swim means Firebaugh probably comes back for the Saturday meet. A great swim might just put him in the main event, with only seven other butterfliers from around the state.
Of course, the competition will be stiff, with four of the state's top six seeds returning from last year's championship race. Among these is top seed Max Irwin of Bloomington North, and last year's second-place finisher Aaron Whitaker of Chesterton.
But like all of the competition, both Firebaugh and GHS coach Kent Menzel come into the state finals believing the best is ahead of the young swimmer. His lifetime-best swim last week came without any sort of taper of his practice schedule.
"That was his lifetime best 100 fly, and now he gets to rest," Menzel said following last Saturday's sectional victory. "We're looking for really great things both Friday and Saturday from him."
If great things are to come, it will begin in tonight's preliminary race. The meet begins at 6 p.m. at the Indiana University Natatorium, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis. Firebaugh swims in the second heat of the 100 butterfly.