Maggie Aroesty was in good company.
The junior from Long Beach said she was in the warm-up pool next to Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps before a race last week at the USA Swimming National Championships in San Antonio, Texas.
Latest HS sports stories
She said she didn't speak to Phelps, not wanting to disrupt his or her own preparation, but the moment was inspiring, nonetheless.
"It's really cool to swim next to those people because you realize they were there just like you and that could be you one day,'' Aroesty said in a phone interview this week.
And while Phelps moves on in his training for the 2016 Olympics, Aroesty is moving on, too -- to the World Junior Championships Aug. 25-30 in Singapore. Her time of 2 minutes, 30.60 seconds in the 200-meter breaststroke earned her a spot on Team USA. She is the only Long Island swimmer to qualify for the meet.
Aroesty, Newsday's swimmer of the year this past season, said the World Junior Championships will show her how prepared she is for the Olympic trials next June.
"It's 11 days of travel and there's close to 45 swimmers that are going,'' Aroesty said. "I went to Israel two summers ago for the Maccabee Games and I also represented Team USA there, (but) this is a different experience.''
As a sophomore last year, Aroesty won the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley at the state championships, where she was named most outstanding swimmer. She also won the state 200 breaststroke as a freshman.
"I think she's come a long way in a year,'' said Dave Ferris, Aroesty's coach at Long Island Aquatic Club. He said there's a short turnaround until Aroesty leaves Wednesday for Singapore, but she is well prepared.
Aroesty said she swims three hours each day (except Sunday) when she's in school and four hours a day in the summer.
"I think it's her competitive desire more than anything else,'' Ferris said. "She can focus on what she has to do and stay with executing the plan. That's hard for a youngster.''
Aroesty wasn't always sure about her future in swimming, however.
Her family was displaced for months from their Long Beach home in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. Aroesty said she lived with cousins in New Jersey, where there was nowhere to swim nearby.
"That was life changing -- dramatically, actually,'' Aroesty said. "For a while, I think for almost a month, I didn't swim.
"I went through times (where) I didn't know if I doubted my abilities or wanted to continue and be as competitive as I had been.''
Aroesty credits her teammates, family and the Long Beach community for giving her the resolve to continue her passion.
Said Aroesty: "It really helped me get back into the sport and get my competitive edge back.''