How Pop Star Taylor Swift Helped Incoming UVA Swimmer Win an Olympic Silver Medal

Emma Weyant holds silver medal and flowers and smiles to the camera

Incoming UVA first-year student Emma Weyant won an Olympic silver medal in Tokyo on Sunday. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Incoming University of Virginia student Emma Weyant has been a huge fan of pop star Taylor Swift ever since Weyant was a young swimmer.

One of her prized possessions is a beach towel she purchased during one of Swift’s world tours.

Weyant has brought the towel – which is black and has “The 1989 World Tour” printed in florescent pink and blue – to every one of her swim meets for as long as she can remember.

So the Sarasota, Florida native – a Scholastic All-American and member of the National Honor Society at Riverview High School – wasn’t about to stop the tradition at this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

On Sunday morning, Weyant had the towel with her in her dressing room as she prepared for her first Olympic final. Then, for good measure, she played the Swift album, “Reputation,” on shuffle as she walked toward the pool.

“I think the last song that played was ‘Ready For It,’” Weyant said in an interview with NBC Sports. “And I thought that was fitting.”


Moments later, Weyant won the silver medal in the 400 individual medley. Her performance was the highest individual finish by a Cavalier women's swimmer in Olympic history. 

“Honestly, this is like crazier than anything I could have dreamed of,” Weyant said after her race. “I’m just so happy to be here, to race the best in the world. It is so much fun.”

Weyant swam a personal best time of 4 minutes, 32.76 seconds.

Japan’s Yui Ohashi took the gold with a time of 4:32.08 while USA’s Hali Flickinger joined Weyant on the podium by earning the bronze medal with a time of 4:34.90.

Also on Sunday, in the 400 free finals, former UVA star Paige Madden finished seventh.

Weyant will be a first-year student at UVA this fall. She deferred her enrollment until then in order to train for her shot at Tokyo.

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